Women assaulted in military suffer depression, alcohol problems

October 30, 1999

One in four female outpatients of Veterans Affairs medical facilities may have been sexually assaulted during her tour of duty, according to a national survey. Depression and alcohol problems plague these veterans.

"The presence and magnitude of military-related sexual assault may be an issue not only of military and social concern, but also of importance to health care institutions and providers," said Cheryl Hankin, Ph.D., U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development, Centers of Excellence at Bedford, Massachusetts and Palo Alto, California.

Outpatients from many of the nation's 172 VA hospitals took part in the study. Mailed questionnaires were completed by 3,632 women, who comprised 56 percent of a randomly identified sample of female VA patients. Twenty-three percent answered 'yes' to the question: "Did you ever have an experience where someone used force or the threat of force to have sexual relations with you against your will while you were in the military?"

Those responding affirmatively were significantly younger (42.6 versus 48.8 years), served longer on active duty (6.5 versus 5.2 years), and were likelier to be enlisted than those who responded in the negative.

Veterans who reported having been assaulted were three times likelier to experience symptoms of depression and twice as likely to have problems with alcohol. Sixty percent had significant symptoms of depression, and 7 percent reported current problems with alcohol. Of veterans who reported having been assaulted and who suffered symptoms of depression, half had received recent mental health treatment, as had 40 percent of assault victims who had problems with alcohol. The results of the study appear in the October issue of the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

Hankin cautioned that this study's findings do not reflect sexual assault incidence within the active military as a whole.

"Given recent notoriety regarding cases of sexual assault of women in the U.S. Armed Forces, the extent and impact demand further investigation," said Hankin. The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Service.
-end-
The Journal of Traumatic Stress is the peer-reviewed journal of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies. For information about the journal, contact Dean Kilpatrick, Ph.D., 843-792-2945.

Posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health http://www.cfah.org. For information about the Center, call Petrina Chong, pchong@cfah.org 202-387-2829.

Center for Advancing Health

Related Depression Articles from Brightsurf:

Children with social anxiety, maternal history of depression more likely to develop depression
Although researchers have known for decades that depression runs in families, new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, suggests that children suffering from social anxiety may be at particular risk for depression in the future.

Depression and use of marijuana among US adults
This study examined the association of depression with cannabis use among US adults and the trends for this association from 2005 to 2016.

Maternal depression increases odds of depression in offspring, study shows
Depression in mothers during and after pregnancy increased the odds of depression in offspring during adolescence and adulthood by 70%.

Targeting depression: Researchers ID symptom-specific targets for treatment of depression
For the first time, physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified two clusters of depressive symptoms that responded to two distinct neuroanatomical treatment targets in patients who underwent transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) for treatment of depression.

A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.

Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.

Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.

CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Read More: Depression News and Depression Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.