Mental Ills Top Reason U.S. Troops Now Hospitalized

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Four of the top five non-combat medical conditions sending troops to the hospital in 2011 were mental ailments, the Pentagon reports:

“Substance abuse, mood, anxiety, and adjustment disorders accounted for 622 person-years of lost duty due to hospitalization, convalescence, and limited duty dispositions,” the summary of military hospitalizations concluded. “Mental disorders accounted for more hospital bed days than any other morbidity category and two-fifths (40.1%) of all hospital bed days.” (Check out the complete list here.)

In fact, mental ills account for the most hospitalizations of U.S. active-duty troops for illness and injury, now topping pregnancy-related conditions. “In 2011 mental disorders accounted for more hospitalizations of U.S. service members than any other major category of diagnoses,” a second piece in the Pentagon’s Medical Surveillance Monthly Report noted. “Adjustment reactions (including post-traumatic stress disorder) and episodic mood disorders were associated with more hospitalizations among active component members than any other specific condition…together, these two conditions accounted for 15 percent and 17 percent of all hospitalizations of males and females (excluding pregnancy and delivery-related), respectively.”

Hospitalizations for mental disorders have jumped by more than 50% since 2007. “The recent sharp increase in hospitalizations for mental disorders likely reflects the effects of many factors including repeated deployments and prolonged exposures to combat stresses; increased awareness and concern regarding threats to mental health among unit commanders and other front line supervisors, service members and their families, and medical care providers; increased screening for and detection of mental disorders after combat-related service and other traumatizing experiences; and decreasing stigmas and removal of barriers to seeking and receiving mental disorder diagnoses and care.”

Per this chart, mental ailments have now eclipsed pregnancy-related conditions as the No. 1 reason for military hospitalizations (full list here):