Psychiatric Annals

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CME Article 

Psychological Effects of Deployments on Military Families

Christopher H. Warner, MD, MAJ, MC, U.S. Army; George N. Appenzeller, MD, LTC, MC, USA; Carolynn Warner, MD; Thomas Grieger, MD, CAPT (Ret), MC, U.S. Navy

Abstract

The continued operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have brought the mental health effects of military conflict to public attention. Most studies of deployment-related stress during the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have focused on the post-deployment symptoms experienced by military members following their return from deployment. These studies have shown rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression in the range of 10% to 20% following deployment. Studies have also shown that many veterans do not seek care despite endorsing high levels on symptoms. Commonly endorsed reasons for not seeking care include practical issues, such as getting time off of work for appointments, but also are because of the perception that seeking care could interfere with their careers or various aspects of their relationships with peers and supervisors. Stress experienced by spouses and other family members has been less studied in relationship to the current conflicts, but has a potential impact on general health status and a potential secondary impact on deployed or returning service members. A recent 1-year analysis of a deployed Division Mental Health unit showed that the top stressor came from the home-front.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Christopher H. Warner, MD, MAJ, MC, U.S. Army, is Chief, Department of Behavioral Health, Winn Army Community Hospital, Fort Stewart, Georgia. George N. Appenzeller, MD, LTC, MC, U.S. Army, Deputy Commander for Clinical Services, Winn Army Community Hospital. Carolynn M. Warner, MD, is Staff Family Physician, Winn Army Community Hospital. Thomas Grieger, MD, CAPT (Ret), MC, U.S. Navy, is Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland.

Address correspondence to: Christopher H. Warner, MD, MAJ, MC, U.S. Army, Department of Behavioral Health, Winn Army Community Hospital, Fort Stewart, GA 31314.

Dr. Christopher Warner; Dr. Appenzeller; Dr. Carolynn Warner; and Dr. Grieger have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

The stated views are those of the authors and do not represent the views or the policy of the Department of Defense.

EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES

  1. Identify stressors that occur among spouses of about-to-be deployed service members.
  2. Identify perceived barriers, among spouses, to mental healthcare.
  3. Identify the levels of depression and stress that occur among spouses of about-to-be deployed service members.

Abstract

The continued operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have brought the mental health effects of military conflict to public attention. Most studies of deployment-related stress during the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have focused on the post-deployment symptoms experienced by military members following their return from deployment. These studies have shown rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression in the range of 10% to 20% following deployment. Studies have also shown that many veterans do not seek care despite endorsing high levels on symptoms. Commonly endorsed reasons for not seeking care include practical issues, such as getting time off of work for appointments, but also are because of the perception that seeking care could interfere with their careers or various aspects of their relationships with peers and supervisors. Stress experienced by spouses and other family members has been less studied in relationship to the current conflicts, but has a potential impact on general health status and a potential secondary impact on deployed or returning service members. A recent 1-year analysis of a deployed Division Mental Health unit showed that the top stressor came from the home-front.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Christopher H. Warner, MD, MAJ, MC, U.S. Army, is Chief, Department of Behavioral Health, Winn Army Community Hospital, Fort Stewart, Georgia. George N. Appenzeller, MD, LTC, MC, U.S. Army, Deputy Commander for Clinical Services, Winn Army Community Hospital. Carolynn M. Warner, MD, is Staff Family Physician, Winn Army Community Hospital. Thomas Grieger, MD, CAPT (Ret), MC, U.S. Navy, is Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland.

Address correspondence to: Christopher H. Warner, MD, MAJ, MC, U.S. Army, Department of Behavioral Health, Winn Army Community Hospital, Fort Stewart, GA 31314.

Dr. Christopher Warner; Dr. Appenzeller; Dr. Carolynn Warner; and Dr. Grieger have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

The stated views are those of the authors and do not represent the views or the policy of the Department of Defense.

EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES

  1. Identify stressors that occur among spouses of about-to-be deployed service members.
  2. Identify perceived barriers, among spouses, to mental healthcare.
  3. Identify the levels of depression and stress that occur among spouses of about-to-be deployed service members.

10.3928/00485713-20090201-11

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