Research Reports - Prevalence of mental health conditions after military blast exposure, their co-occurrence, and their relation to mild traumatic brain injury

Brain Inj. 2015 Dec;29(13-14):1581-8. doi: 10.3109/02699052.2015.1075151. Epub
2015 Oct 19.

Walker WC(1,)(2,)(3), Franke LM(1,)(2,)(3), McDonald SD(1,)(3,)(4), Sima AP(5),
Keyser-Marcus L(6).

PRIMARY OBJECTIVES: To measure common psychiatric conditions after military
deployment with blast exposure and test relationships to post-concussion syndrome
(PCS) symptoms and mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) history.
RESEARCH DESIGN: Cross-sectional.
METHODS AND PROCEDURES: Service members or Veterans (n = 107) within 2 years of
blast exposure underwent structured interviews for mTBI, post-traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD) and multiple mood and anxiety diagnoses.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND RESULTS: MTBI history and active PTSD were both common,
additionally 61% had at least one post-deployment mood or anxiety disorder
episode. Psychiatric diagnoses had a high degree of comorbidity. Most
dramatically, depression was 43-times (95% CI = 11-165) more likely if an
individual had PTSD. PCS symptoms were greater in those with post-deployment PTSD
or mood diagnosis. However, neither mTBI nor blast exposure history had an effect
on the odds of having PTSD, mood or anxiety condition.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings support that psychiatric conditions beyond PTSD are
common after military combat deployment with blast exposure. They also highlight
the non-specificity of post-concussion type symptoms. While some researchers have
implicated mTBI history as a contributor to post-deployment mental health
conditions, no clear association was found. This may partly be due to the more
rigorous method of retrospective mTBI diagnosis determination.

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