A new study in JAMA Psychiatry found unusually high rates of certain kinds of mental illness in new Army recruits — especially a disorder called intermittent explosive disorder, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Harvard University sociologist Ronald Kessler carried out surveys and interviews with 5,428 soldiers across the United States.
The study suggests that people with certain kinds of preexisting mental illness are more likely to join Army in the first place.
“The kind of people who join the Army are not typical people,” Kessler explained to The Times. “They have a lot more acting-out kind of mental disorders. They get into fights more. They’re more aggressive.”
Kessler found that more than 8% of soldiers who entered the Army had intermittent explosive disorder, which is characterised by rageful outbursts that are totally out of proportion to the situation. That’s nearly six times the rate of the disorder present in civilians, according to the LA Times.
The study also found that soldiers entering the Army had higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and attention deficit disorder than the general population. Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder for new recruits were at the same levels as the general population, but the rates surpassed civilian levels during their times of service.
The results of Kessler’s anonymous survey are disturbing since the Army in recent years enhanced its mental health screening processes for new recruits.
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