Pre-Deployment Insomnia Symptoms Confer PTSD Risk Similar to Combat Exposure

Article excerpt

[From Medical News Today]

A new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Naval Health Research Center has shown military service members who have trouble sleeping prior to deployments may be at greater risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety once they return home. The new study, published in the July 2013 edition of the journal SLEEP, found that pre-existing insomnia symptoms conferred almost as a large of a risk for those mental disorders as combat exposure.

"Understanding environmental and behavioral risk factors associated with the onset of common major mental disorders is of great importance in a military occupational setting," said lead study author Philip Gehrman, PhD, assistant professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, member of the Penn Sleep Center, and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. "This study is the first prospective investigation of the relationship between sleep disturbance and development of newly identified positive screens for mental disorders in a large military cohort who have been deployed in support of the recent operations in Iraq or Afghanistan."

Using self-reported data from the Millennium Cohort Study, the research team evaluated the association of pre-deployment sleep duration and insomnia symptoms on the development of new-onset mental disorders among deployers. Multivariable logistic regression was used to estimate the odds of developing PTSD, depression, and anxiety, while adjusting for relevant covariates including combat-related trauma.

They analyzed data from 15,204 service members, including only those servicemen and women on the timing of their first deployment across all branches and components of military service. …