Systematic reviews of psychological disorders, multisymptom illness and chronic fatigue syndrome in veterans deployed to the Gulf War, Afghanistan or Iraq War

Overview

This study reviewed the existing Australian and international research to compare rates of psychological disorders (depression, posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD], alcohol use disorders, substance use disorders, generalised anxiety disorder [GAD]), multisymptom illness and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in Gulf War and Afghanistan/Iraq War veterans with military comparison groups not deployed to those conflicts.

The published research showed that:

  • Veterans of the Gulf War, Afghanistan or Iraq War were more likely to experience depression, PTSD, GAD, alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder than military comparison groups
  • Gulf War veterans were more likely to experience multisymptom illness and CFS than military comparison groups
  • Pooled results across the published literature indicated that Gulf War veterans had an elevated risk of experiencing PTSD and GAD compared to Afghanistan/Iraq War veterans.

These reviews have global relevance because they included studies of veterans from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and Canada. While these systematic reviews accurately summarised current knowledge about veterans of these conflicts, cultural and healthcare differences need to be taken into account when interpreting the results.

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