Ground-breaking Research Into Veteran Health Adds to Understanding of PTSD

Thynne + Macartney are proud partners of Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation (GMRF) and have been following the latest developments in their research.

The Foundation’s latest research, The Vietnam Veteran Study, was an initiative of GMRF and RSL (Queensland Branch) into the long term physical and psychological effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on Vietnam veterans. It identified numerous conditions associated with PTSD independent of typical risk factors such as age, obesity, smoking and alcohol intake.

These problems included abnormal liver texture and fatty liver, gastrointestinal problems, sleep apnoea, heart attacks and decreased lung function.

The study included 300 Vietnam veterans and 25 medical and psychological assessments. It was a world-first research project and the results were recently published in The Medical Journal of Australia.

Participants in the study were two times more likely to have abnormal liver texture, suggestive of liver disease. They had a two to three times increased risk of suffering from gastrointestinal problems including irritable bowel syndrome and its associated symptoms, in addition to reflux and stomach ulcers. The participants were three times more likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea and were almost four times more likely to have suffered a heart attack in the past. They had decreased lung function and had a four times higher risk of fatty liver.

It is estimated that approximately 8.3% of Australian Defence Force personnel will have experienced PTSD in the past 12 months. This is significantly higher than the Australian community which is 5.2%. One in four Vietnam veterans develop PTSD.

The signs of PTSD include “re-experiencing symptoms” including intrusive memories, nightmares and flashbacks. Also, persistent avoidance of internal reminders (memories, thoughts or feelings) or external reminders of the event. Another symptom is negative alterations in mood and thoughts such as feelings of detachment or the inability to feel positive emotions. Also, the presence of two or more “arousal symptoms” such as hypervigilance and sleep disturbance. Finally, there are physical symptoms such as gastrointestinal problems.

Veterans and military personnel are not the only people who suffer from PTSD. First responders, emergency service personnel and anyone who has witnessed or experienced a traumatic event is at risk of developing PTSD.

To read more about PTSD and the research GMRF are doing, visit their website.

An interesting, short video on the research results is below:

This information is intended to provide a general summary only and should not be relied on as a substitute for legal advice.

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