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Aneri Ketan Shah asked: Do Indian soldiers suffer from PTSD?

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  • D.P.K. Pillay replies: Anyone who joins military service is recruited in an absolutely fit medical condition. The service conditions are unique wherein they live in a regimented lifestyle under tough military laws. However, prolonged exposure to situations of extreme violence during sustained military action, involving constant threat to one’s own life, and a sense of isolation and deprivation due to lack of regular access to family and friends and many other such unique conditions does impact the psyche of a soldier over a period of time. It also creates a peculiar stress that aggravates even regular diseases and ailments. In such circumstances, soldiers do have a tendency to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), not just in India but in any army deployed in a combat situation. While some are able to cope with it, there are some who succumb to the stress and develop psychiatric disorders.

    The armed forces are aware of the toll that PTSD can take on a soldier that can adversely impact his or her performance and morale as well as that of the sub unit. It can also affect post-retirement rehabilitation. A number of studies, activities and welfare measures have been undertaken from time to time to counter PTSD in all three services. The Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR), a research laboratory of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), has also undertaken major studies in this regard. However, there is scope for further research particularly on prevention which is considered better than cure.

    For more on the subject, please refer to the following IDSA publications:
    K.C. Dixit, “Addressing Stress-Related Issues in Army”, IDSA Occasional Paper No. 17, February 2011.
    K.C. Dixit, “Optimising Stress in Sub-Conventional Warfare”, IDSA Occasional Paper No. 16, January 2011.
    K.C. Dixit, “Enhancing Soldiers’ Capability for Counter-Insurgency Operations”, Journal of Defence Studies, IDSA, 5 (1), January 2011, pp. 155-159.
    K.C. Dixit, “Human Resource Development Strategy for Sub-Conventional Warfare”, Journal of Defence Studies, IDSA, 4 (3), July 2010, pp. 35-55.

    Posted on June 01, 2018