Posts Tagged Depressive Disorder

Depression Strongest Driver of Suicidal Thoughts in Soldiers, Vets


Current and former soldiers who seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should be screened closely for major depression since the disorder is the single strongest driver of suicidal thinking, say authors of a new Canadian study.

Researchers evaluated 250 active duty Canadian Forces, RCMP members and veterans.  The study comes at a time when record numbers of suicides are being reported among American troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, and the number of suicides reported among Canadian forces last year reached its highest point since 1995.

In veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, about half also have symptoms of major depressive disorder during their lifetime, said the researchers.

But “the task of predicting which people may be at an increased risk of completing suicide is a complex and challenging care issue,” they said.

The study included 193 Canadian Forces vets, 55 active troops and two RCMP members referred to the Parkwood Hospital Operational Stress Injury Clinic in London, Ontario.

Soldiers and vets were screened for PTSD, major depression, anxiety disorders and alcohol abuse.  The depression questionnaire also included questions about suicidal thinking.

Study participants served an average of 15 years and had been deployed an average of three times. About one-fourth had been deployed to Afghanistan at least once. Ninety-two per cent were men.

Most met the criteria for “probable” PTSD, and almost three-fourths screened positive for probable major depression.

Overall, about one-fourth — 23 percent — said that they had experienced thoughts of self-harm, or that they would be better off dead, for several days over the prior two weeks.

Another 17 percent said they had those thoughts more than half of the days in the past two weeks; six percent reported feeling this way almost every day for the previous two weeks.

As found in other studies, the researchers showed that PTSD is linked to suicidal thoughts. But “what became the biggest predictor was, specifically, depression severity,” said Dr. Don Richardson, a consultant psychiatrist at the Operational Stress Injury Clinic and an adjunct professor in the department of psychiatry at Western University in London.

“It really stresses the importance that when you’re assessing someone for PTSD it’s also critical that you assess specifically for major depression,” Richardson said. “From our limited study, it was depression severity that was the most significant predictor of having suicidal ideation.”

The concern is that soldiers seeking treatment for military-related trauma might not receive aggressive therapy for depression. Instead, the focus might be more focused on PTSD and exposure therapy.

“There’s potentially a lot of people out there who are suffering who might not be aware that there are effective treatments, and that there are clinics available across Canada that specialize in military trauma,” said Richardson.

Source:  The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry

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Anxiety More Common in the Western World, Depression in East


Depression and anxiety affects evend society in the world, according to what is believed to be the world’s most comprehensive study of these mental disorders, conducted by researchers from the University of Queensland, Australia.ry country a

The researchers carried out two separate studies that focused on anxiety disorders and major depressive disorder (also called clinical depression). Researchers analyzed surveys of clinical anxiety and depression that had been conducted across 91 countries, involving more than 480,000 people.Anxiety More Common in the Western World, Depression in East

In Western societies, anxiety disorders were more commonly reported than in non-Western societies, including countries that are currently experiencing conflict.

About 10 percent of people in North America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand were experiencing clinical anxiety compared to approximately eight percent in the Middle East and six percent in Asia.

The opposite was true for depression, with those in Western countries least likely to feel depressed. Researchers found that depression was the lowest in North America and highest in certain areas of Asia and the Middle East.

Approximately nine percent of people experience major depression in Asian and Middle Eastern countries, such as India and Afghanistan, compared with about four percent in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand and East Asian countries including China, Thailand and Indonesia.

Study co-author Alize Ferrari said that the findings suggest that depression may be more common in parts of the world where conflict is occurring.  However, she emphasizes that it can be a difficult task to get hold of good quality data from low and middle income countries.

Amanda Baxter, who led the study, also added that researchers should use caution when comparing mental disorders across different societies and countries.

“Measuring mental disorders across different cultures is challenging because many factors can influence the reported prevalence of anxiety disorders,” said Baxter.

Source: The University of Queensland 

Person holding head with one hand photo by shutterstock.

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