The Influence of Depressive Symptoms on Suicidal Ideation Among U.S. Vietnam-Era and Afghanistan/Iraq-Era Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
VETERANS AFFIARS MEDICAL CENTER DURHAM NC
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Major depressive disorder MDD co-occurs frequently with posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD, and both disorders are linked to suicidal ideation. An emergent literature examines suicidal ideation in U.S. AfghanistanIraq-era veterans. Little research, however, has studied the role of PTSD and comorbid MDD on suicidal ideation across service eras. Therefore, this study aimed to examine the impact of depression on suicidal ideation in AfghanistanIraq-era and Vietnam-era veterans with PTSD. The sample included 164 Vietnam and 98 AfghanistanIraq veterans diagnosed with PTSD at a VA outpatient PTSD Clinic. Using structured interviews, 63 of the Vietnam sample and 45 of the AfghanistanIraq sample were diagnosed with comorbid current MDD. Measures included self-report assessments of PTSD and depressive symptoms and the Personality Assessment Inventory. Results of analyses suggested that in veterans of both eras, PTSD, MDD, and their interaction were significantly related to suicidal ideation PTSD 2 .01 MDD 2 .10 PTSD MDD 2 .02. For veterans reporting greater depressive symptoms, there was a stronger relationship between PTSD symptoms and suicidal ideation. These results suggest that veterans from both eras display a similar clinical presentation and highlight the need to consider depressive symptoms when assessing veterans with PTSD. Future research should examine suicidal ideation and behaviors as they change over time in these two cohorts.