Massage therapy relieves stress and anxiety, and may be a valuable component of any program to address post-traumatic stress disorder.

In new research, investigators affiliated with Boston University School of Medicine have found that risk factors for post-traumatic stress symptomatology (PTSS) among Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom male veterans were relatively similar to what was observed in a prior group of Vietnam veterans.

A growing body of research indicates that certain individuals are at higher risk for mental health problems following exposure to traumatic events, according to a university press release.

Prior research on risk factors for PTSS in war-exposed veterans has revealed both direct and indirect mechanisms of risk that span pre-deployment, deployment and post-deployment timeframes.

According to the researchers, the goal of this study was to identify the mechanisms through which previously documented risk factors contribute to PTSS in a national sample of 579 female and male veterans deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as to examine the extent to which results mirrored findings among Vietnam Veterans.

Researchers’ findings indicated that PTSS was accounted for by multiple chains of risk, many originating in pre-deployment experiences that placed both female and male veterans at risk for additional stress exposure, according to the press release.

In addition, the researchers observed that family relationships during deployment appeared to play a more prominent role in explaining female veterans’ compared to male veterans’ post-deployment readjustment.

The findings currently appear online in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology. This research was supported, in part, by a Department of Veterans Affairs Health Sciences Research and Development Service grant and the National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

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