Combined PTSD and depressive symptoms interact with post-deployment social support to predict suicidal ideation in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans

Bryann B Debeer, Nathan A Kimbrel, Eric C Meyer, Suzy B Gulliver, Sandra B Morissette
Psychiatry Research 2014 May 30, 216 (3): 357-62
Rates of suicide are alarmingly high in military and veteran samples. Suicide rates are particularly elevated among those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, which share overlapping symptoms and frequently co-occur. Identifying and confirming factors that reduce, suicide risk among veterans with PTSD and depression is imperative. The proposed study evaluated, whether post-deployment social support moderated the influence of PTSD-depression symptoms on, suicidal ideation among Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan using state of the art clinical, diagnostic interviews and self-report measures. Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) Veterans (n=145) were invited to, participate in a study evaluating returning Veterans׳ experiences. As predicted, PTSD-depression, symptoms had almost no effect on suicidal ideation (SI) when post-deployment social support was high; however, when, post-deployment social support was low, PTSD-depression symptoms were positively associated with, SI. Thus, social support may be an important factor for clinicians to assess in the context of PTSD and, depressive symptoms. Future research is needed to prospectively examine the inter-relationship, between PTSD/depression and social support on suicidal risk, as well as whether interventions to, improve social support result in decreased suicidality.

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