Traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder are devastating conditions that men and women in the armed forces can sustain before or after a deployment. Many studies link the two conditions, revealing that there is an increased chance an individual may develop PTSD if he or she has experienced head trauma. A 2012 UCLA study reveals that people who have sustained a mild traumatic brain injury should avoid stressful situations since they are more at risk for anxiety disorders. Recent research supports this advice. In a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers found that U.S. Marines who suffered a TBI during active-duty deployment were more likely to develop PTSD.
In the study, researchers from the VA Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health, the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego and the VA San Diego Healthcare System studied 1,648 active-duty Marines and Navy servicemen. According to Medical Xpress, “the servicemen were evaluated approximately one month before a scheduled 7-month deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, one week after deployment had concluded, and again three and six months later.”
The researchers used the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), which is a method used to diagnose PTSD and the severity of the condition. Of the servicemen analyzed, more than half said they had experienced a TBI prior to deployment, and approximately one-fifth of the servicemen said they experienced one during deployment. The researchers found that marines who suffered mild TBI during deployment were approximately twice as likely to develop PTSD. According to the Los Angeles Times, Marines who already suffered from PTSD or a brain injury prior to deployment had the highest risk of PTSD post-deployment.
The researchers state that many factors can lead to the development of PTSD. According to the researchers, two of the most significant are pre-existing psychiatric symptoms and the type of trauma experienced. Nevertheless, the researchers found that TBI was the strongest predictor of PTSD.