Letters from home may help prevent post-traumatic stress disorder in happily married soldiers

June 3, 2011

A new study from the Journal of Traumatic Stress finds that for active-duty male soldiers in the U.S. Army who are happily married, communicating frequently with one's spouse through letters and emails during deployment may protect against the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms after returning home.

After studying information from 193 married male Army soldiers who returned from military deployment within the past year, investigators found that more frequent spousal communication through "delayed" communication such as letters, care packages, and emails was linked with lower PTSD symptoms after deployment, but only in soldiers with higher levels of . For soldiers with lower marital satisfaction, frequent communication was linked with more PTSD symptoms.

"We think this means that when soldiers are maritally dissatisfied, communication with their wives during deployment may be less positive and doesn't provide soldiers with social support that can help protect against PTSD symptoms," said co-author Ben Loew, University of Denver.

Interestingly, the benefits of communication against PTSD symptoms in happily married soldiers did not hold for "interactive" communication such as phone calls and instant messaging.

"We think that letters, which happened less often overall compared to phone calls, had stronger effects," said Loew. "When you receive letters, they can be read again and again, and when you write them, it can be therapeutic."

According to Loew, this study highlights the importance of knowing how communicate with their spouses during deployment, and how this communication could be protective or not for a soldier's mental health and marriage.

Loew and his colleagues plan to conduct more comprehensive research that could help military decision-makers as well as Army couples themselves as they think about optimal communication during deployment

Related Stories

Recommended for you

How language gives your brain a break

August 3, 2015

Here's a quick task: Take a look at the sentences below and decide which is the most effective. (1) "John threw out the old trash sitting in the kitchen." (2) "John threw the old trash sitting in the kitchen out."

Neural efficiency hypothesis confirmed

July 27, 2015

One of the big questions intelligence researchers grapple with is just how differences in intelligence are reflected in the human brain. Researchers at ETH Zurich have succeeded in studying further details relating to suspected ...

How does color blindness affect color preferences?

July 21, 2015

(Medical Xpress)—Dichromacy is a color vision defect in which one of the three types of cone photoreceptors is missing. The condition is hereditary and sex-linked, mostly affecting males. Although researchers have explored ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.