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Battlefield Trauma Can Cause Long-term Headaches

Combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with longer-term emotional, cognitive and physical symptoms, including headache. Surprisingly, according to the Archives of General Psychiatry, concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury, experienced by soldiers does not appear to have the same long-lasting negative effects.

Previous studies have shown that soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan have nearly double the rates of migraine compared to the general population, as well as higher incidences of PTSD, depression and anxiety.

“Nearly 2 million troops have been deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom since 2001,” according to the Archives of General Psychiatry. “High levels of combat exposure have been documented among Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom-deployed soldiers, with increased risk of blast exposure and injury and development of post-deployment mental and physical health problems.”

To help address this issue, the National Headache Foundation has launched the War Veterans Health Resource Initiative, a website that provides veterans with a single, comprehensive source for information on all aspects of post-deployment life, including headache. In addition, the NHF is holding a free educational conference on March 5 in Augusta, Georgia, for veterans and individuals suffering from migraine and chronic headaches related to traumatic brain injury and PTSD.

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