Do female combat vets face added mental health risks?

August 16, 2013

A recent study of veterans by Navy researchers suggests that women who deploy to combat zones may be more susceptible to psychiatric disorders than men.

But the authors of the study, a synopsis of which was posted Friday by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, say that their conclusions are limited by the small number of female service members included in the the sample.

(Gregory Bull/AP) - President Obama greets Marines and their families before a speech on Aug. 7.
(Gregory Bull/AP) – President Obama greets Marines and their families before a speech on Aug. 7.

The researchers also note that females might also seek assistance for mental disorders more frequently than men, even though men might have the same quantity of disorders.

“Future research is needed on how fixed factors, such as gender, impact psychiatric and adjustment disorders,” states the research brief.

“Women who deploy to combat zones may be particularly susceptible to psychiatric disorders,” the authors wrote in a peer-reviewed journal article published in May by BMC Psychiatry.

Other factors may include education, age, marital status, and satisfaction with leadership, the article says.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, was done on 1,113 Marines who completed surveys after deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008.

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Josh Hicks · August 16, 2013