MENTAL HEALTH MONDAY…Army Misdiagnoses Hundreds with Personality Disorders Instead of PTSD

A new Associated Press article suggests that the U.S. Army may have misdiagnosed hundreds of soldiers with a personality disorder, rather than with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Soldiers who carry a diagnosis of a personality disorder often face being discharged, and find that their access to military and health benefits cut at the same time. Nearly 1,000 soldiers a year between 2005 and 2007 were discharged for having a personality disorder. Soldiers who receive a PTSD diagnosis can receive treatment while still being enlisted, and continue to receive all of the military and health benefits of an active duty soldier.


Advocates for veterans suggest that the practice, although supposedly stopped by the Army since it first came to light, is still occurring. Hundreds of soldiers are still receiving personality disorder diagnoses, cutting off their access to needed health care and treatment, according to advocates.

“We really have an obligation to go back and make sure troops weren’t misdiagnosed,” Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen told the Associated Press. Dr. Van Dahlen is a clinical psychologist whose nonprofit “Give an Hour” connects troops with volunteer mental health professionals.
It’s not clear what prompted the Associated Press to publish a new story about this issue, as it cited no new report or data in its article. Army official deny there is any new problem, or that the rate of personality disorder diagnoses has changed since the practice first came to light and was ended in 2008.

Before a soldier is accepted into the armed forces, they undergo routine physical and mental health screenings and examinations to ensure they are fit to become soldiers.
Sometimes, however, the Army apparently suggests that some individuals have pre-existing personality disorders that only become apparent after a return from active combat operations, according to the Associated Press article.
Outside of a single story of a soldier who experienced this sort of treatment, there was no other source or data provided by the Associated Press in the article to substantiate the reporter’s claims.

This story first came to light in April 2010 by an investigative piece in The Nation called Disposable Soldiers.

Source: Associated Press By Psych Central News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

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DrBev is a National Certified Counselor, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a Certified Gestalt Psychotherapist, Seminar - WorkShop Facilitator, Radio Personality, Author and President and Educational Director of DrBev Mental Health Counseling.
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One Comment

  1. D
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    My husband has served his country honorably for over 18 years. Just this recent deployment to Japan. He was put into the Physchiatric ward for 5 days. Due to him quitting smoking and taken of abruptly to welbutrin ( to help him quit smoking). Then that is when the anxiety (severe, in the middle of the night, with no sight to be found to relieve them.) He asked for help several times and he was continously ignored by his Flight Surgeon. Until I made a phone call back here.

    Several medications with no break. 16 to be exact. No diagnosis in sight. Other it could be this or that. 2 hospital stays later. They are looking at seperation or retirement. They were not ready to release him to the civilian Doctors. Due to the Navy not wanting to release him and having big plans for him.

    We have been through many diagnosis. B12 deficiency, nuerological, celiac, glutin intolerance, which was never fully addressed. PTSD, Preseveration, OCD, Anxiety and many more. So, it is very hard to believe the diagnosis that they are trying to seperate or retire him for.

    The most emotionally damaging of all of this is. Is that he was authorized to drive by his Doctors under the medications he was given.

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