Fri Oct 30, 2009 8:39am IST
By Kate Kelland
LONDON (Reuters) – Alcohol abuse and depression are common among British troops returning from conflict deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan but post traumatic stress is less of a problem than previously thought, researchers said on Friday. A study by British psychiatrists found that more than 27 percent of troops suffer post deployment mental health problems, but only around 5 percent have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — a debilitating illness that can be caused by wartime trauma. There were was little difference in levels of PTSD symptoms between British and U.S. troops deployed to Iraq. Amy Iversen of the King’s Centre for military health research at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, who led the study, said it showed the health needs of active troops and should be valuable for health planners and policy makers “Alcohol misuse and depressive disorders are much more common and therefore should be the primary focus for education, prevention and intervention,” she wrote in the study. Senior British military figures have accused the government of failing to provide enough care for soldiers suffering mental trauma after fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, where around 170,000 British troops have been deployed since 2001. “Although our perception is that post traumatic stress disorder symptoms are the main source of psychiatric illness in service personnel, alcohol misuse and depressive disorders are actually much more common,” she said. The study, published in the journal BioMed Central Psychiatry, analysed 821 military personnel to see how many suffered mental illness and post traumatic stress.