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Gulf War veterans reported multiple psychological symptoms immediately after the war; the temporal course of these symptoms remains unclear.
To assess the prevalence of war-era onset mental disorders in US veterans deployed to the Gulf War and in non-deployed veterans 10 years after the war.
Mental disorders were diagnosed using structured clinical interviews. Standard questionnaires assessed symptoms and quality of life.
Gulf War-era onset mental disorders were more prevalent in deployed veterans (18.1%, n=1061) compared with non-deployed veterans (8.9%, n=1128). The prevalence of depression and anxiety declined 10 years later in both groups, but remained higher in the deployed group, who also reported more symptoms and a lower quality of life than the non-deployed group. Remission of depression may be related to the presence of comorbid psychiatric disorders and level of education. Remission of anxiety was related to treatment with medication.
Gulf War deployment was associated with an increased prevalence of mental disorders, psychological symptoms and a lower quality of life beginning during the war and persisting at a lower rate 10 years later.
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