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A prospective study of depression following combat deployment in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan


  • Wells, T.S.
  • Leardmann, C.A.
  • Fortuna, S.O.
  • Smith, B.
  • Smith, T.C.
  • Ryan, M.A.K.
  • Boyko, E.J.
  • Blazer, D.


We investigated relations between deployment and new-onset depression among US service members recently deployed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Methods. We included 40219 Millennium Cohort Study participants who completed baseline and follow-up questionnaires and met inclusion criteria. Participants were identified with depression if they met the Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders Patient Health Questionnaire criteria for depression at follow-up, but not at baseline. Results. Deployed men and women with combat exposures had the highest onset of depression, followed by those not deployed and those deployed without combat exposures. Combat-deployed men and women were at increased risk for new-onset depression compared with nondeployed men and women (men: adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.32; 95% confidence interval [Cl] = 1.13, 1.54; women: AOR=2.13; 95% Cl=1.70, 2.65). Conversely, deployment without combat exposures led to decreased risk for new-onset depression compared with those who did not deploy {men: AOR=0.66; 95% Cl=0.53, 0.83; women: AOR=0.65; 95% Cl=0.47,0.89). Conclusions. Deployment with combat exposures is a risk factor for new-onset depression among US service members. Post-deployment screening may be beneficial for US service members exposed to combat.

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  • Wells, T.S. & Leardmann, C.A. & Fortuna, S.O. & Smith, B. & Smith, T.C. & Ryan, M.A.K. & Boyko, E.J. & Blazer, D., 2010. "A prospective study of depression following combat deployment in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 100(1), pages 90-99.
  • Handle: RePEc:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2008.155432_9
    DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.155432

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    Cited by:

    1. Lubens, Pauline & Silver, Roxane Cohen, 2019. "U.S. combat veterans’ responses to suicide and combat deaths: A mixed-methods study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 236(C), pages 1-1.
    2. Cesur, Resul & Sabia, Joseph J. & Tekin, Erdal, 2013. "The psychological costs of war: Military combat and mental health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 51-65.
    3. Lyk-Jensen, Stéphanie Vincent & Weatherall, Cecilie Dohlmann & Jepsen, Peter Winning, 2016. "The effect of military deployment on mental health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 193-208.

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