Soldiers Turn to Medication to Cope

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As the wars continue in Iraq and Afghanistan, many U.S. troops are turning to medication to deal with the stresses of battle, a new report shows.

The report, highlighted in Time magazine, revealed that 12 percent of combat troops in Iraq and 17 percent of those in Afghanistan are taking prescription, anti-depressants, or sleeping pills to help them cope.

Click the play button for an interview with Dr. Benjamin Keyes of Regent University on the report.

Military officials say increasing violence and isolated missions in the war zones have forced more troops to turn to medication.

"This high rate of the use of anti-depressants and sleeping pills is really just a symptom of a deeper problem," Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America told CBS News. "We're sending folks back over and over again in a tremendously stressful environment, and it's taking its toll."

"The anti-depressants and sleeping pills are one way that the military and the individuals are trying to meet that threat," he added.

The Army estimates that authorized drug use splits down the middle between troops taking anti-depressants like Prozac and Zoloft, and prescription sleeping pills like Ambien.

"The increase in the use of medication among U.S. troops suggests the heavy mental and psychological price being paid by soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan," the Time magazine report said.

Their findings were based on data from the Army's Fifth Mental Health Advisory Team report.

In 2007, cases of posttraumatic stress disorder jumped by 50 percent, according to Army statistics. Records also show about 40,000 cases have been documented since 2003.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has even hinted that the Pentagon may begin extending "qualifying wounds" for Purple Heart recipients to include PTSD. He said it was"clearly something" to consider.

Sources: Time Magazine, Associated Press, CBS News

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