Aug 1, 1992

Clinical presentation of PTSD in World War II combat veterans

Hospital & Community Psychiatry
R HierholzerJ Rosenberg


Clinicians have increasingly recognized posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among Vietnam veterans, but the disorder may be easily overlooked among World War II combat veterans. The authors review recent studies of PTSD in older veterans and describe five cases that illustrate the diverse clinical presentations of PTSD in this population. Symptoms included anxiety, cognitive and somatic complaints, depression, alcohol dependence, and amnestic periods. Despite the varied presentations, a fairly consistent patient profile emerged. Patients avoided reminders of war, showed an exaggerated startle response, and experienced restless sleep and chronic anxiety. Factors associated with exacerbations of symptoms were retirement and reminders of war experiences. Although past studies have emphasized resuppression of the trauma, the authors encourage a flexible approach to treatment, including exploratory techniques.

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Mentioned in this Paper

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Alcoholic Intoxication, Chronic
Mental Recall
Exaggerated Startle Response
Restless Sleep
Combined Modality Therapy

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