Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans can last for decades, according to a new study that looked at Americans who served in the Vietnam War.
Researchers found that most of the 11 percent of veterans who had PTSD a decade or more after that war showed little improvement since then, The New York Times reported.
More than 18 percent of Vietnam veterans with PTSD had died by retirement age, a rate about twice that of those without the disorder, according to the study to be presented Friday at an American Psychological Association meeting.
Vietnam veterans especially likely to develop PTSD included members of minorities who enlisted before completing high school, and those who had killed multiple times in combat, The Times reported.
The researchers said their findings from the Department of Veterans Affairs-funded study have implications for the United States as it deals with veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"This study shows us what the road ahead is going to look like," Dr. Charles Marmar, one of the study authors and chairman of psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center and director of the NYU Cohen Veterans Center, told The Times.
"A significant number of veterans are going to have PTSD for a lifetime unless we do something radically different," he said.