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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and aggression in OEF/OIF veterans

  • Author(s): Angkaw, AC
  • Ross, BS
  • Pittman, JOE
  • Kelada, AMY
  • Valencerina, MAM
  • Baker, DG
  • et al.

Aggression is a problem among some combat veterans. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with physical aggression in veterans, and co-occurring depression increases the risk of committing aggressive acts. Few studies have examined the impact of PTSD on various forms of aggression. While using a standardized multidimensional measure of aggression, this study examines the impact of depressive symptoms on the relationship between PTSD and various forms of aggression in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans. Depressive symptoms are hypothesized to mediate the relationship between PTSD and four types of aggression: (1) physical aggression toward others, (2) physical aggression toward objects, (3) physical aggression toward self, and (4) verbal aggression. Seventy-two OEF/OIF veterans completed assessment batteries and clinical interviews upon enrollment into a postdeployment mental health clinic. Study results partially supported the study hypotheses; depressive symptoms indirectly mediated the relationship between PTSD and two forms of aggression: verbal aggression and physical aggression toward self. In contrast to some prior studies of intimate partner violence in veterans with PTSD, no mediation relationship between depression and physical aggression toward others was found. Study results have implications for the development of interventions to treat aggressive behaviors in OEF/OIF veterans with PTSD and depression. © Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S. All rights reserved.

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