Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Resiliency on the battlefield: Soldiers with a positive outlook less likely to suffer anxiety, depression

Date:
January 5, 2011
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
In the first combat-zone study of its kind, a research team has found that soldiers with a positive outlook in the most traumatic situations were less likely to suffer health problems such as anxiety and depression.

In the first combat-zone study of its kind, a research team led by Michigan State University found that soldiers with a positive outlook in the most traumatic situations were less likely to suffer health problems such as anxiety and depression.

The study, which surveyed Army troops fighting in Iraq, could have implications for police officers, firefighters and others who regularly deal with traumatic events such as death. Training these first-responders to think in less catastrophic terms could help them better cope with distressing events and function more effectively in the long term, said MSU's John Schaubroeck, lead researcher on the project.

The study will be published in the January issue of the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

"There is evidence that if we can train people to be more psychologically resilient -- that is, less catastrophic in their thinking and more optimistic and more hopeful -- then they function better when they encounter traumatic situations," said Schaubroeck, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor of psychology and management. "They may be less likely to experience symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder down the line, although we don't know that for sure."

Schaubroeck added that people who have high levels of resiliency still experience stress and symptoms of health problems. "It's just that resiliency means they get over the event relatively quickly, while a low-resiliency person might have a hard time letting go."

The study was based on a survey of 648 soldiers in nine combat units fighting in Iraq in 2004. This was about 15 months after the end of major combat operations were declared, but during a period of heavy fighting against insurgents in particular areas. The information was collected in Iraq by Lt. Col. Everett Spain, an Army officer and then instructor and assistant professor at the United States Military Academy.

Many researchers have studied the psychological effects of combat after the fact, but this appears to be the first study to scientifically investigate resilience during wartime. The study analyzed traits including hopefulness, optimism and ego resilience, which basically means how well a person maintains psychological well-being during difficult times.

According to the study, the more stressful the combat situation, the more important the resiliency traits became. "Resiliency really shows itself when the chips are down," Schaubroeck said. "This is different than the way we often think about it. We often think about resiliency as having the same level of effects regardless of the level of stress."

On a practical note, Schaubroeck said leaders can play a crucial role in shaping a message of hope and optimism. It's especially important to target individuals experiencing trauma for the first time. If a rookie police officer witnesses a colleague get killed, for example, the officer needs to understand that an emotionally-charged reaction is normal, Schaubroeck said.

"The fact that you're crying because you saw someone get shot and you can't help them -- it's not unusual to be in that situation if you are a police officer," Schaubroeck said. "Leaders need to be sensitive to this when debriefing people and not depend entirely on health professionals. Oftentimes when you bring in health professionals, it's too late; the psychological situation has already gotten out of hand for the individual."

Schaubroeck's co-researchers include Ann Chunyan Peng from MSU and Laura Riolli from California State University-Sacramento.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Resiliency on the battlefield: Soldiers with a positive outlook less likely to suffer anxiety, depression." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110104101340.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2011, January 5). Resiliency on the battlefield: Soldiers with a positive outlook less likely to suffer anxiety, depression. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110104101340.htm
Michigan State University. "Resiliency on the battlefield: Soldiers with a positive outlook less likely to suffer anxiety, depression." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110104101340.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins