Why Are So Many Returning Veterans So Angry?

Friday, June 18, 2010
(photo: David Douglas Duncan)

The trick to helping veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars struggling with anger issues may lie in focusing on certain symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), say researchers with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In particular, PTSD “hyperarousal” symptoms are the key, including sleep problems, guarded behavior, jumpiness, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. After interviewing 676 veterans, researchers also found that many ex-soldiers with anger problems had backgrounds that included childhood abuse and families with a history of mental illness. In addition, these veterans tended to re-experience traumatic events.

According to the study, “Veterans who said they had difficulty controlling violent behavior were more likely to report witnessing pre-military family violence, firing a weapon during deployment, being deployed more than 1 year.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Correlates of Anger and Hostility in Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans (Eric B. Elbogen, H. Ryan Wagner, Sara R. Fuller, Patrick S. Calhoun, Patricia M. Kinneer and Jean C. Beckham, American Journal of Psychiatry)


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