Military Stress Can Cause Mental Health Problems in Pregnant Veterans
December 30, 2010 – A recent study connected 2 seemingly unconnected events in female veterans’ lives. The study suggested the stress endured as part of military service in a war zone can negatively affect female veterans later in life. More specifically, that stress may be a cause for mental health issues in those female veterans if they were to become pregnant.
Female veterans who were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan found a strange relationship develop with their pregnancy. During pregnancy, spiking hormone levels and physiological changes dominate a woman’s body. These changes can induce or exacerbate dormant or existing mental health problems in the mother, which were first brought on by the military stress. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who become pregnant are apparently at higher risk for developing:
- Depression; and
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The study itself was fairly extensive as it included pouring over the medical records of over 43,000 female veterans who all served in Iraq or Afghanistan between 2001 and 2008. Women are serving in the military in increased numbers, which means, if not watched and treated for mental illnesses during pregnancy, this problem will continue to grow. Now knowing there is a problem, implementing diagnostic and support services should be the next logical step.