Although the conflict ended decades ago, hundreds of thousands of Vietnam War veterans are still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their combat experiences.
More than 283,000 veterans from that war still have symptoms of PTSD, according an a new study funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs and presented this week at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention in Washington, D.C.
About 11% of Vietnam combat veterans today still face nightmares and memories and the tendency toward isolation, numbness and anxiety that come with PTSD. In addition, about a third also suffer from major depression, the study found.
In the 1980s, a similar study was done and this new analysis is the first one to be done since then. About 16% of those veterans from the original 1986-1988 research have died.
The new study also showed that for men suffering from PTSD, the risk of an early death is twice as high. Also, veterans suffering from mental illness are likely to have other health problems, including cardiovascular disease and back, knee and joint pain.
Other findings from the study are that Black and Hispanic Vietnam veterans were two to three times more likely than white veterans to develop PTSD. Although veterans had high rates of alcohol abuse at some time in their lives, the current rates are low.
Scientists estimate that more than 283,000 Vietnam veterans – men and a few hundred women now beyond the age of retirement – still suffer post-traumatic stress disorder from their war experiences in Southeast Asia. “The study’s key takeaway is that for some, PTSD is not going away. It is chronic and prolonged.