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'Flood' of PTSD Cases Expected in the Near Future for War Veterans

First Posted: Jun 20, 2014 06:45 PM EDT

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety condition that affects over 7.7 million Americans. A new 300-page study concludes that there will be a surge of PTSD cases due to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Each year, the Pentagon and the Department of Veteran Affairs spent billions of dollars to help fund PTSD treatments for the millions of sufferers in the United States. The problem is that they're not sure if the latest treatments are all that effective, and hundred of thousands of new cases are expected in the near future after 2.5 million Americans served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Congress mandated the Institute of Medicine to analyze PTSD cases as well as treatment costs throughout the country. They found that 8% of the 2.5 million troops deployed since 2001 have been diagnosed with PTSD; a statistic previously believed to be 5%. Additionally, last year the Department of Veteran Affairs diagnosed 62,536 war veterans with the anxiety disorder who did not serve in Afghanistan or Iraq. From 2003 to 2012 the number of veterans seeking treatment for PTSD increased from 190,000 to over 500,000.

"Although these numbers are likely to underestimate the incidence and prevalence of PTSD, they demonstrate that action is needed to respond to this growing problem," the study says, in this Time Magazine article. "Demands for post traumatic stress disorder services among service members and veterans are at unprecedented levels and are climbing."

The Institute of Medicine scientists said the Pentagon and Department of Veteran affairs show inconsistent and sometimes poor practices in helping PTSD patients after they analyzed the relative data. With the report claiming the U.S. is "at the cusp of a wave of PTSD," it's not assuring that there seems to be lapses in treatment for these suffering veterans.

There are a number of statistics documenting the nation's poor oversight of PTSD. Firstly, the percentage of the Department of Veteran Affairs' research budget for PTSD has declined from 32.4% to 24.6% from 2010-2013. The experts also noted that communication between the Pentagon and Veteran Affairs mental health leaders and clinicians is extremely poor, which could be a reason funding has decreased and ineffectiveness has been unearthed so easily.

Over 650,000 Afghanistan and Iraq veterans had PTSD in 2013. The number is expected to increase, and the government must take the proper measures to provide a solution.

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