Skip to comments.Vets pass on mood disorders: study
Posted on 08/25/2005 11:10:42 PM PDT by Aussie Dasher
VIETNAM veterans still suffering from the trauma of their war experiences may have passed on their mental health disorders to their children, research suggests.
Psychologist Julie Salter has studied 70 families of Vietnam veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder in south-east Queensland over eight years. She has found the children, aged between 13 and into their 30s, are at significantly greater risk of suicide, anger, low self-esteem, drug and alcohol problems, depression and anxiety than the general population.
"My own opinion as to why children are having more problems is the fact that Dad often is unable to form close relationships with the child at a younger age," Ms Salter said.
"Often what happens then is that the children feel rejected."
Ms Salter, a PhD student at Queensland's Griffith University, said she hoped by understanding how combat impacted on a veteran's family, early interventions and better treatment programs could be developed for military families in future.
"The more we know about the impact of combat on families, the better able we will be to intervene and lessen these effects by dealing with them much earlier," she said.
"If we can learn from the experiences of Vietnam veterans, I think it will have a positive effect on military families of other deployments."
The former Army psychologist said research into veterans' children had been limited, particularly in Australia.
But she said her findings were not unexpected given research into the children of Holocaust survivors.
"Children of Holocaust survivors experienced many, many more mental health problems as a result of their parents' experiences," Ms Salter said in an interview.
Other studies have suggested that depression can be handed down through the generations.
"What the research indicates is that if one parent has a mood disorder, that really significantly increases the risk of the child actually becoming depressed as well," Ms Salter said.
"Research has actually found the same thing in substance abuse.
"Although very little in that regard has been done in the area of post-traumatic stress, which is more military related, my own thought is it wouldn't be much different."
Ms Salter, who has worked with veterans and their families for 15 years, said their wives often played a key role in protecting the children from significant psychological problems.
"If mum is having difficulty coping herself in the home environment, that often means that the children are more likely to have trouble," she said.
"On the other hand, if mum proves to be quite resilient, that often lessens the effects of Dad on the children. She often plays the peacemaker."
An article in a recent Medical Journal of Australia suggested research into the possibility of veterans transmitting war service-related behavioural problems to their children, and even grandchildren, had been neglected.
Ms Salter, who still does consulting work with the Australian Defence Force, said although she had only looked at the children of Vietnam veterans, some of their wives had expressed concern about their grandchildren.
"They've said to me it's a shame that you're not looking further into the grandkids because we really think that there are problems there as much as with our own children," she said.
She is looking for male volunteers with no military service aged 50 and over who are married and have children to compare them with the veterans' families.
Anyone wanting to take part in the research should phone Ms Salter on 0409 453 184.
Gee... the report seems confused, first the problem is passed around like a disease, and then its genetic?
Actually depression and supcepability to PTSD has a strong genetic basis. Speculation about "forming relationships" is pretty much guess work, until data comes in.
It's bad enough that they painted Vietnam vets as wacko's. Now they want to smear their kids too!
I'm betting that the study authors began the project with conclusions.
Uh.... Here they come.
Maybe spitting on people and calling them "baby killers" may have some long term effects?????
Am I the only one thinking we should be more worried about the ANTI-WAR protesters passing on THEIR mental disorders?
Seems to me they enven pass on the diorders to those they just talk to.
Psychologists and their "professional" organizations (American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association) tell us that homosexuality is not a disorder, and is in fact "healthy."
Meanwhile,they are now claiming that the children of American war hero veterans are inheriting some sort of "disease" of the mind because of Vietnam?
I, for one, am with you ALL the way!
That statement alone should demolish any pretense of scientific objectivity.
So, researchers are supposed to ignore the results of their research, or not develop informed opinions? I think science would be in bad shape if not for a bit of thinking!
I don't read this research as an attack...I read it as more understanding of how complex the human mind and social interactions are. The recent research on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from places like Emory is very interesting...the way adult brains are different as a result of childhood stress has tremendous implications on policy and politics! For example, it throws monkey-wrench into the homosexual activists' assumption that adult brain differences must indicate "from birth" tendencies.
For those who question the idea of genetics and environment interacting, how about the following hypothetical: Let's say an army gets deployed in a sunny region where there are parasites that don't do well in sunlight, so the army spends much of its time sunbathing. Then, we might notice a much higher rate of skin cancer in light-skinned soldiers...a genetic influence that is brought out by the special conditions and behavior, as Wiseghy implied with "susceptability".
Now, let's say those troops come home and having grown used to sunbathing a lot, take their families to the beach a lot, etc. The kids of light-skinned troops might have a higher skin-cancer rate than the light-skinned civilians...you can say it's partly genetics, but also partly not. I don't think the article is implying a Lamarkian passing of genetic proclivities. And the headline is what causes the problem--the word "MIGHT" was not included there, but the lead sentence itself does say "may have," indicating the speculative nature of this research and hypotheses.
As do I. It is, however, my understanding that science is about repeatability of results, not opinions.
I may be wrong...