National

The War Within: Post-traumatic stress disorder

James Sperry takes eight pills a day to help him sleep and calm his anxiety and anger. The 22-year-old brought post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) home after seven months with the First Marine Division in Iraq.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that sometimes affects people who have survived life-threatening events, such as combat, violent crimes, terrorist attacks or natural catastrophes. Symptoms can be mild or severe and include nightmares, flashbacks, depression, anxiety, anger and extreme avoidance behavior

A study released April 17 by the Rand Corp. reported that 18.5 percent of the 1.6 million U.S. troops who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan -- or 300,000 people -- said they had symptoms of depression or PTSD because of their overseas service.

Nineteen percent -- 320,000 -- reported they had suffered head injuries, which, research shows, sharply increases these troops' likelihood of later developing PTSD. Only about half the troops had sought treatment for their mental health or head wounds, according to the report.

Read the two-part series at bnd.com.

  Comments