The current study examined the role of predeployment sexual and physical abuse, combat exposure, and postdeployment social support in predicting panic disorder and PTSD diagnoses in a large sample of returning veterans. A chart review was conducted for 1740 OEF/OIF veterans who received mental health screenings at a large VA hospital between May 24, 2004 and March 26, 2008. Assessments included psychosocial evaluations conducted by psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers in addition to self-report measures. Results suggested that the prevalence of panic disorder (6.1%) and PTSD (28.7%) are elevated among OEF/OIF veterans. Veterans reporting higher levels of combat experience were likely to be diagnosed with PTSD (odds ration [OR], 1.17; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.10-1.25; p < .001) or comorbid panic disorder and PTSD (OR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.04-1.33; p < .001). Veterans endorsing predeployment sexual abuse were likely to be diagnosed with comorbid panic disorder and PTSD (OR, 3.05; 95% CI, 1.15-8.08; p < .05), as were veterans endorsing predeployment physical abuse (OR, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.22-1.00; p < .05). Panic disorder was also found to be associated with greater risk for suicide attempts than PTSD (χ² = 16.38, p = .001). These findings indicate a high prevalence of panic disorder among returning veterans and highlight the importance for clinicians to assess returning veterans routinely for panic disorder in addition to PTSD.
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