'THE BATTLE AFTER [...]; TROOPS' HIDDEN HELL .. TROOPS' HIDDEN HELL .. TROOPS' Afghanistan Heroes Struggle to Recover from Mental Scars

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), April 9, 2012 | Go to article overview

'THE BATTLE AFTER [...]; TROOPS' HIDDEN HELL .. TROOPS' HIDDEN HELL .. TROOPS' Afghanistan Heroes Struggle to Recover from Mental Scars


Byline: Stephen Stewart

AN epidemic of mental illness has blighted a generation of soldiers struggling to cope with the horrors of Afghanistan, the Daily Record can reveal today.

Our investigation has discovered that thousands of soldiers - almost one in 10 - are being diagnosed with psychological problems.

y, from top brass n dogged by All ranks of the Army, to privates, have been mental illness as they battle to cope with the carnage they have witnessed in Afghanistan.

The most recent figures, obtained by the Record under freedom of information laws, show that more than 9000 serving soldiers and officers have been found have some type of mental disorder.

y r n e g rs total Between January 2007 and December 2010, a staggering 9064 personnel battled number of mental issues, including mood anxiety disorders. 1, 31, 064 d a ues, and d m hs More than 500 of them were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The regular Army currently have around 100,000 personnel. y d Some 2510 troops were diagnosed with mental problems in 2010 alone.

Of those, 185 were diagnosed with PTSD.

Frontline soldiers with of private suffer most combat-related illnesses. The rank ost with In 2010, 1157 privates were diagnosed with mental illness. Around 10 per cent of them had PTSD.

Between 2009 and 2010, the total number of soldiers diagnosed as mentally ill soared from 2199 to 2510.

The number of soldiers with PTSD leapt by around 50 per cent in just three years, from 121 in 2007 to 185 in 2010.

Psychotherapist and retired colonel Tony Gauvain is an expert in the treatment of military PTSD.

He said: "A generation has been blighted. This is a ticking timebomb.

"The tightness of the PTSD definition allows the Ministry of Defence to minimise its liability. But it is highly significant that they do refer to mental health disorders.

"PTSD is actually an umbrella term which covers numerous things such as depression, anxiety, self-medication and other symptoms.

"So this is the tip of the iceberg. We are dealing with people who served in the Falklands 30 years ago and there would have been old soldiers from World War I who were still having nightmares years down the line."

The former Army officer and chairman of charity PTSD Resolution said: "This is a massive problem that is likely to get worse in years to come.

"You could take these figures and project them forward because this will just get worse as time goes on.

"Sometimes, the traumatic memory of combat can lay dormant, like a coiled spring, for a long time and it just takes a small event to push them over the edge. Troops can be on an adrenalin high in Afghanistan and when they come back home, life feels humdrum and boring.

"They feel their wife, partner or mother doesn't understand them and they feel their life is meaningless."

ANGER PTSD sufferers commonly have flashbacks, memories or nightmares about their experiences of war.

They have difficulty talking about what happened and suffer personality changes, including anger, irritability and extreme mood swings.

To be diagnosed with the condition, a sufferer must be severely impaired in their day-to-day functioning. …

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