If you count psychological trauma, all war vets are casualties.

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The Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Celexa, Effexor, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan, Restoril, Xanax, Adderall, Ritalin, Haldol, Risperdal, Seroquel, Ambien, Lunesta, Elavil, Trazodone War. “Walk into any of the larger-battalion-aide stations in Iraq or Afghanistan today, and you’ll find Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft to fight depression, as well as Wellbutrin, Celexa, and Effexor. You’ll see Valium to relax muscles (but also for sleep and combat stress) as well as Klonopin, Ativan, Restoril, and Xanax. There’s Adderall and Ritalin for ADD and Haldol and Risperdal to treat psychosis; there’s Seroquel, at subtherapeutic doses, for sleep, along with Ambien and Lunesta.

Because of the value the Army places on mission focus, however, doctors in theater are generally reluctant to prescribe anything that could seriously compromise it. Rather, it’s when soldiers return home that prescription-drug use and abuse spikes sharply upward: Depression and boredom set in, suppressed pain surfaces with a vengeance, hypervigilance morphs into insomnia, and meds are very easy to access, because they’re the most expedient way to treat pain and distress. Roughly one in seven soldiers at Fort Hood were on antidepressants or antipsychotics alone at some point last year.

 

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