First Evidence of PTSD Dates Back to 1300BC

UK researchers find texts of soldiers haunted by 'ghosts'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2015 8:41 AM CST
First Evidence of PTSD Dates Back to 1300BC
File photo of US soldiers on patrol.   (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

It's not uncommon for modern-day soldiers to return from Iraq suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. But now it turns out that soldiers who fought there 3,000 years ago did the same, say UK researchers. They've found texts dating back to 1300BC in which warriors in ancient Mesopotamia describe symptoms that sound very much like PTSD, reports the Telegraph. The earliest previous account of PTSD-like symptoms came from the Greek historian Herodotus in 490BC, which would make this the first description of the problem, says one of the lead researchers from Anglia Ruskin University.

"They described hearing and seeing ghosts talking to them, who would be the ghosts of people they'd killed in battle—and that's exactly the experience of modern-day soldiers who've been involved in close hand-to-hand combat," professor Jamie Hacker Hughes tells the BBC. In that era, men were expected to fight every third year, and they were more likely to die of injuries sustained in battle given the lack of medical know-how, he adds. "The risk of death and the witnessing of the death of fellow soldiers appears to have been a major source of psychological trauma." (One report suggests that only about half of US vets suffering from PTSD are getting the proper treatment.)

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