The majority of journalists who cover conflict do not develop post-traumatic stress disorder or depression or substance abuse. However, the minority that do is substantial. It is well above the numbers seen in journalists who confine themselves to local reporting in countries such as Canada and the United States. The rates of PTSD and depression are significantly elevated compared to the general population.
If one looks at a cumulative percentage, i.e., what are the rates of PTSD and depression in journalists over the course of a 30-year career covering war and conflict, then one arrives at a figure that is very close to that seen in combat veterans. The main disorders are post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and substance abuse.
Conflict photographer Kevin Carter, best known for his image of a vulture lurking near a famine-stricken child, took his own life in 1994 a few months winning a Pulitzer Prize. In his suicide note, he wrote: “The pain of life overrides the joy to the point that joy does not exist.”