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Depression in the Military

Feb 24, 2023

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost five percent of adults aged 18 and older in the United States struggle with depression. Some of these cases are mild and easily treated while others are severe and cause disability for the person with depression. 

A person who struggles with depression has an increased risk of attempting suicide or dying by suicide. As one of the most common mental health disorders, depression can be treated in any number of ways when a person reaches out for treatment. One group that struggles with large numbers of members with depression is the military. 

The stresses of military life can heighten symptoms of depression for some people. People who were already at risk of depression living as a civilian may be more susceptible to struggling with this mental health condition during and after military service. Brain Therapy TMS offers cutting-edge depression treatment for veterans and servicemembers struggling with depressive disorders. 

How Prevalent is Depression in the Military

From the regimented lifestyle to the constant threat of injury or death, a member of the military lives a different lifestyle than many other people. These demands can lead to mental health disorders. 

In a 2021 survey, up to 23 percent of military members were struggling with depression, which is significantly higher than the national percentage of adults. This depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts. Almost 11 percent of members of the military reported thoughts of suicide. 

Suicide rates among active members of the military and veterans have been on the rise since 9/11, and some of these cases begin as military-related depression. Serving in the military is more stressful than most jobs. The resulting mental health issues need to be addressed. 

Depression can also be a co-occurring disorder for a member of the military. Depression and substance abuse disorders can go hand-in-hand, and there are equally high numbers of substance abuse disorders among active duty military members.  

The Impact of Trauma and Deployment on Military Mental Health

Members of the military and veterans have seen things and been in situations that most people will never have to face. Some active-duty military members are going into combat situations and witnessing the horrors of war.

They’re faced with the possibility of death and see their friends and fellow military members die. Members of the military in a combat situation also live with the fear of being wounded and possibly disabled for the rest of their lives. All of these things cause trauma in people. 

Military personnel who aren’t in combat live with the constant knowledge that they can be deployed at any time into a combat situation. This trauma, fear, and stress of living with the unknown can lead to bouts of depression of varying severity. It can also lead to anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health disorders that need to be addressed. 

Signs and Symptoms of Military-Related Depression

Not everyone in the military struggles with depression, and friends and fellow members dying and being injured in combat situations can create normal sadness. A person needs to be able to recognize the symptoms and signs of depression in themselves or someone they love.

Here are some signs that it’s depression:

  • Unexplained symptoms involving overall health, such as back pains, headaches, and more
  • Extreme feelings of sadness, isolation, hopelessness, and emptiness
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions
  • Losing interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Problems with remembering things, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Problems sleeping, including the inability to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Self-blame and focusing on past failures
  • Feels like small tasks take extraordinary effort
  • Constantly tired 
  • Slowed movements and speech
  • Loss of appetite or eating too much
  • Feelings of anxiety or fear

These symptoms can vary from one person to the next, and the severity of symptoms can fluctuate. Someone who suspects they’re struggling with depression or has a loved one who is should seek treatment to heal and recover. 

Long-Term Effects of Military-Related Depression

According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability around the world. Some people continue to struggle with severe depression even as they take medication and attend therapy. It’s possible to try other types of therapy that might be effective. However, for some members of the military, the long-term effect is a continuing struggle with depression. 

While struggling with military-related depression, the person may damage personal relationships past the point of repair. This can lead to divorce, lost friendships, and uncertain relationships with parents and siblings.

Disrupted sleep patterns during depression can lead to permanent sleeping issues. The person is also susceptible to future episodes of depression. If depression is left untreated, it can cause a myriad of health problems from heart issues to problems with the immune system. In some cases, depression can lead to suicide and the loss of life. 

Benefits of Therapy for Military-Related Depression

Seeking help through therapy, treatment, and medication for military-related depression is a big, challenging step. However, a member of the military struggling with depression can find many benefits for doing so, such as:

  • Feel better about life and enjoy a more positive outlook
  • Rebuild relationships with family and friends
  • Feel better physically with more energy
  • Discover more self-confidence
  • Return to doing things the person enjoys
  • Better decision-making skills and clearer focus and concentration
  • Ability to work or go to school

Therapy and treatment for military-related depression can help a service member reclaim their life and lead a more normal life. It’s essential that the military member determine the right treatment for their needs and create open lines of communication about their progress and expectations. 

Seeking Treatment for Military-Related Depression With Brain Therapy TMS

When a current or former member of the military struggles with depression, it’s incumbent for that person to seek treatment to recover and return to their daily life. The causes of depression for military members can stem from life in the military and requires specialized care. 

At Brain Therapy TMS, we’re proud to offer specialized care for those struggling with military-related depression. Our team provides excellent care and compassion for each of our patients. Reach out to us today to learn more about the options that we offer!

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