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Keywords:

  • PTSD;
  • combat exposure;
  • twins;
  • comorbidity

Abstract

The well-documented association between combat-related PTSD (C-PTSD) and other mental disorders may be an artifact of shared familial vulnerability. This study uses a co-twin control design to examine whether the association between C-PTSD and other mental disorders persists after adjusting for shared familial vulnerability. Data were from male monozygotic-twin pairs in the Vietnam Era Twin Registry. Logistic regression analyses demonstrated that combat exposure, adjusted for C-PTSD, was significantly associated with increased risk for alcohol and cannabis dependence and that C-PTSD mediated the association between combat exposure and both major depression and tobacco dependence. We conclude C-PTSD comorbidity persists after controlling for shared vulnerability. Combat exposure is directly and indirectly, through C-PTSD, associated with increased risk for other mental disorders.