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APA: Returning Soldiers Face Multiple Health Issues

Meeting sessions address need to recognize and treat comorbid psychological conditions

THURSDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- Health issues facing returning service members from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- including traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders, depression, and suicide risk among female service members -- were addressed during symposia and sessions presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, held from May 16 to 21 in San Francisco.

Highlights included sessions presented May 18 and 19 that addressed medical and behavioral treatments such as meditation to treat returning soldiers and their families. Many presenters emphasized the need for effective treatments in soldiers suffering from multiple psychological comorbidities.

Mark L. Willenbring, M.D., director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA ) Division of Treatment & Recovery Research, discussed the challenges of diagnosing and treating alcohol use disorders during an NIAAA symposium.

"Most people with alcohol disorders are younger drinkers with less severe disorder," Willenbring said in a statement. "If patients and physicians can recognize risky drinking and less severe dependence, we can prevent the development of severe chronic dependence. What's needed is a new public and professional understanding of the drinking patterns and early symptoms that increase risk."

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