Wives of deployed soldiers suffer more depression, sleep disorders

January 14, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Wives of soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are more likely to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and other mental health conditions than women whose husbands are not deployed, according to a new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

The study, published Jan. 14, 2010, in The , examined medical records of the wives of active duty U.S. Army personnel, comparing those whose husbands were serving abroad with those whose husbands were not deployed.

“This study confirms what many people have long suspected,” said Alyssa Mansfield, Ph.D., the study’s lead author, who conducted the research as a doctoral student at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and is now a research epidemiologist at RTI International. “It provides compelling evidence that Army spouses are feeling the impact of recent deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The result is more depression, more stress, more sleepless nights.”

Understanding the scope of the problem can help the U.S. military better plan mental health prevention and treatment programs for the families of active duty personnel, she said. The study also may provide insight into families’ long-term medical needs.

The researchers examined medical records of more than 250,000 female spouses of active duty Army personnel for outpatient care received between 2003 and 2006. About 31 percent of the wives’ husbands were not deployed during that period, while about 34 percent were overseas for between one and 11 months and 35 percent were deployed for longer.

Although the three groups were similar in size, the study found almost 3,500 more diagnoses of mental health conditions among wives of soldiers deployed for less than a year, compared to the group of wives of non-deployed soldiers. Also, there were more than 5,300 additional diagnoses among wives of soldiers deployed for a year or longer.

Depression, anxiety, and acute stress reaction and adjustment disorders were the most commonly diagnosed conditions among both groups.

Spouses of deployed military personal naturally fear for their loved ones’ safety, Mansfield said. But they also often face challenges maintaining a household, coping as a single parent and dealing with the marital strain that comes with being apart for an uncertain amount of time.

“The majority of active duty soldiers are married, so we need to pay attention to the needs of their families, both short and long term,” Mansfield said. “These findings should help the military medical system better plan programs - not only for treatment, but also for support and prevention.”

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Hormone therapy in the menopause transition did not increase stroke risk

November 24, 2017
Postmenopausal hormone therapy is not associated with increased risk of stroke, provided that it is started early, according to a report from Karolinska Institutet published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Moderate coffee drinking 'more likely to benefit health than to harm it', say experts

November 22, 2017
Drinking coffee is "more likely to benefit health than to harm it" for a range of health outcomes, say researchers in The BMJ today.

When traveling on public transport, you may want to cover your ears

November 22, 2017
The noise levels commuters are exposed to while using public transport or while biking, could induce hearing loss if experienced repeatedly and over long periods of time, according to a study published in the open access ...

Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses

November 22, 2017
Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses, but spirits are most frequently associated with feelings of aggression, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Air pollution linked to poorer quality sperm

November 22, 2017
Air pollution, particularly levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is associated with poorer quality sperm, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Sunrise and sunset guide daily activities of city-dwellers

November 21, 2017
Despite artificial lightning and social conventions, the dynamics of daylight still influence the daily activities of people living in modern, urban environments, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

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.