This report details a study to examine how symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder evolve over time, to identify vulnerability and protective factors that impact on symptoms and to explore post-service outcomes of ex-serving personnel with symptoms.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following exposure to a traumatic event and is characterised by i) re-experiencing symptoms, including intrusive thoughts, ‘flashbacks’ and recurring nightmares; ii) the avoidance of thoughts or reminders of the trauma, iii) emotional numbing and iv) hypervigilance, arousal, irritability and anger. PTSD has itself evolved since its entry into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-lll) in 1980 after the Vietnam war. Criteria changed even during the King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) cohort study, a longitudinal study which has examined the health and wellbeing of the UK Armed Forces since 2004. These changes included the separation of emotional numbing and avoidance symptom domains, and a return to the objective categorisation of ‘qualifying’ traumas, rather than any event that subjectively evoked ‘intense fear, horror or helplessness’.
Palmer, L., Rona, Roberto J., Fear, N. T. and Stevelink, S. A. M., 2021. The evolution of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the UK Armed Forces: Traumatic exposures in Iraq & Afghanistan and responses of distress (TRIAD study). Report prepared for King's Centre for Military Health Research and Forces in Mind Trust. Available at: <https://s31949.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/FiMT-TRIAD-Report-2020-FINAL.pdf>.