Depression Can Exacerbate Anger in Vets With PTSD

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Depression Can Exacerbate Anger in Vets With PTSD
Depression Can Exacerbate Anger in Vets With PTSD

HealthDay News — Anger often escalates quickly in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when they're depressed, a new study reveals.

“Our study findings should draw attention to anger as a major treatment need when military service members screen positive for PTSD or for depression, and especially when they screen positive for both,” lead researcher Raymond Novaco, PhD, of the University of California, Irvine, said in a news release from the American Psychological Association.

In the study, published in the journal, Psychological Trauma: Theory Research, Practice and Policy, Novaco's team examined the mental-health records of almost 2,100 soldiers — mostly men — who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and later sought treatment.

Those who showed signs of depression and PTSD had higher levels of anger and believed they were more likely to hurt themselves, the researchers said. Almost three-quarters of those with signs of PTSD also appeared to suffer from depression.

It's not uncommon among veterans in general and can often be violent, according to Novaco. His team pointed to prior studies, including one of 18,000 soldiers returning from Iraq that found that 40% experienced anger outbursts, more than 30% uttered violent threats to others, and 15% engaged in physical fighting.

However, while anger “is a driver of violent behavior,” it is also amenable to focused psychological treatment, Novaco said.

Reference

Novaco RW, et al. Anger Intensification With Combat-Related PTSD and Depression Comorbidity. Psychol Trauma. 2015; doi: 10.1037/tra0000042.

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