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Military post deployment syndromes
M2.1 WAR SYNDROMES AND THEIR EVALUATION: FROM THE US CIVIL WAR TO THE PRESENT
K. C. Hyams.Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC, USA
The decade long controversy over the postulated Gulf War syndrome has raised questions about whether there have been similar syndromes in the past. Initially, a historical study was conducted using secondary source documents, usually accounts of doctors who had provided clinical care for war veterans. This historical study found that poorly understood war syndromes have been associated with armed conflicts since at least the US Civil War. Although these syndromes were characterised by similar symptoms (fatigue, shortness of breath, headache, sleep disturbances, forgetfulness, and poor concentration) no single recurring illness was apparent. Instead, many different types of illnesses were found, including well known medical and psychiatric conditions and post-traumatic stress disorder. Although no single disease was apparent, one unifying factor stood out: a unique population was intensely scrutinised after experiencing an exceptional, life threatening event and complex environmental exposures. As a result, post-war research efforts have been limited by …