from the world's big
How War Changes, and How It Doesn’t
Question: In what ways\r\nhas the average soldier’s war experience changed?\r\n\r\n
Nancy Sherman:\r\nWell, it stays constant in the sense that you leave a civilian life, you\r\n put on\r\na uniform, you kind of get cut to size, in a way, through boot camp and \r\nthen\r\nrebuilt as part of a cadre and in a good army you’re really tight, it’s \r\nabout\r\nsolidarity, it’s about cohesion and you do better if there’s cohesion \r\nand if\r\nyou’re not replaced one by one, you’re replaced by units where you go \r\ntogether\r\nand come back together as best you can and know you’re going to bring \r\neach\r\nother home, or try to at least. \r\nAnd, of course, now we have women in the forces, a small \r\npercentage, but\r\nthey’re trying their best to blend. And in talking to women, it can be a\r\nstruggle. We don’t think about\r\nships, but in ships, those are tight environments, not a lot of outside \r\ncontact\r\nand it can be very internal-looking.\r\n\r\n
So, those are some of the continuing factors that \r\nyou go\r\ninto a place that’s really high stress. But what’s different now, two \r\nthings\r\nthat come to my mind, one is that we’re fighting counter-insurgency \r\nwars. We had some of that in Vietnam, but we\r\nreally have it now where you can’t tell the difference between the \r\ncivilian and\r\nthe combatant and the combatant, the insurgent, exploits that and \r\nshields, in a\r\nsense, civilians in, or shields themselves in civilian populations. So, we have right now rules of\r\nengagement that are tight. General\r\nStanley McChrystal has said, “You don’t fire unless you are really are\r\noverrun.” And so soldiers are\r\ntrying to hold back their fire if they run a risk of a civilian casualty\r\n and\r\nthe preponderance of risk ought to be on themselves as trained soldiers. I think that’s right, I really do think that soldiers\r\n need\r\nto put the risk upon themselves, they’re the ones that are trained to \r\nfight,\r\nnot the civilian. But it’s hard\r\nwhen you know you’re being taken advantage of. So,\r\n that’s a real stress factor.\r\n\r\n
The other stress factor, of course, that makes it \r\ndifferent in addition to the counter-insurgency operations, is that we \r\nare a thinned out\r\nmilitary fighting for 10 years—longer than the World War II period—with\r\nmultiple deployments. And I don’t\r\nmean just one and two; three and four and five, and I’ve talked to some \r\nthat\r\nare in six, with short dwell time at home. And I guess you could\r\nsay a third factor, no front line and rear guard. You’re\r\n always exposed because there’s always an explosion\r\nthat can go off.\r\n\r\n
So, those three factors—counter-insurgency \r\noperations with\r\nco-mingling of civilian; and combatant, thinned out Army with multiple\r\ndeployments; and no front line, but always exposed—make for a very, very\r\nstressful environment.\r\n\r\n
You could add a fourth factor to that, certainly, \r\nand that\r\nis right now the war theater and the home theater are themselves \r\nco-mingled in\r\na certain way. Soldiers can email,\r\ninstant message, cell phone home and vice versa, and the upshot is that \r\nthe\r\ninsulation that sometimes was so protective isn’t always there. As a soldier you worry about what’s\r\nhappening with your kids or your spouse, at the same time you worry \r\nwhat’s\r\nhappening with your battle buddy.
In some ways, the psychology of combat hasn’t changed since Troy. But modern wars have also brought their own unique traumas.
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Gender and sexual minority populations are experiencing rising anxiety and depression rates during the pandemic.
- Anxiety and depression rates are spiking in the LGBTQ+ community, and especially in individuals who hadn't struggled with those issues in the past.
- Overall, depression increased by an average PHQ-9 score of 1.21 and anxiety increased by an average GAD-7 score of 3.11.
- The researchers recommended that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.
- When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
- A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
- Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".