A  Short  History  Of  PTSD  In  The  Military

Reports of battle-associated stress reactions appear as early as the 6th century B.C. One of the first descriptions of PTSD was made by the Greek Historian, Herodotus, in 490 B.C. He described, during the Battle of Marathon, an Athenian soldier who suffered no injury from war, but became permanently blind after witnessing the death of a fellow soldier.

In our American Civil War there were 750,000 dead. The term used for PTSD in the 1800’s was “Exhaustion”, or “Natural Shock Reaction”.

In World War I (1919), 113,000 U.S. Soldiers were lost. The total causalities world-wide was 20 million. The PTSD term was “Shell-Shock”.

In World War II (1940’s), the term was “Shell Shock”. Among the U.S. soldiers in hospitals, 98% had psychiatric disturbances.

In the Vietnam War, the term was “Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome”. We lost 58,000 dead from 1965 to 1975. 830,000 Vietnam War veterans suffered symptoms of PTSD (U.S. Dept of Veterans’ Affairs). Unfortunately, 20-25 years later, 4 out of 5 still had symptoms.

The Vietnam vets have a greater percentage of PTSD (15%) than the Iraq vets (which is 12-13%).

In the 1980’s, the term “PTSD” (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) was recognized as an official medical term. In the 2000’s, the “D” for “Disorder” was eliminated, so it became PTS (Post Traumatic Stress). Other historic names for PTSD were; “Railway Spine”, “Stress Syndrome”,” Battle Fatigue”, “Traumatic War Neurosis”, and “Survivor Syndrome”.

In the DSM-IV (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) that will be released in May 2013, the “D” for “Disorder” is being re-established in the PTSD acronym.

From 2001-2010, 2.16 million U.S. troops were deployed in combat zones. The post war treatment (two to four years) cost is estimated $1.54 billion to $2.69 billion.

For more statics on suicide and PTSD statistics, please go here.