Post-Traumatic Stress Fear for Gulf Veterans

By Radowitz, John von | The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), May 28, 1998 | Go to article overview

Post-Traumatic Stress Fear for Gulf Veterans


Radowitz, John von, The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland)


DRUGS given to protect soldiers in the Gulf War against chemical weapons may have induced long-term effects similar to those of post-traumatic stress disorder, new research has suggested.

They contained a type of enzyme-inhibiter shown to have an effect on brain chemistry that mirrors that of stress.

Both initially bring about increased levels of a nerve message chemical called acetylcholine, which is known to be important for learning and memory.

But Israeli scientists yesterday reported a hitherto unknown mechanism whereby prolonged exposure either to stress or the Gulf War chemical results in the reverse effect.

It is thought this could account for symptoms typical of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as depression, irritability and impaired cognitive performance.

If the link is confirmed it is likely to re-ignite the debate over Gulf War Syndrome.

Gulf War veterans have argued that their symptoms of cognitive and mood problems, joint pain, inflammation and chronic fatigue, are due to the toxic cocktail of chemicals to which they were exposed.

However, experts and the US government, in particular, has suggested that if the syndrome exists it is probably related to PTSD. …

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