While suffering from depression is not a unique experience for people in any particular career, military personnel and their families are more susceptible to both depression and other issues such as PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and anxiety. The 2010 Medical Surveillance Report from the US Department of Defense reported that over 27% of military personnel who have lived in combat situations report having depression, and that doesn’t count the number of spouses and children of military personnel who also suffer from depression.
You can have depression along with other mental health issues, or on its own. Depression can have a devastating effect on your ability to function normally in your life in the military and with your family and other civilians. Depression can also make it more difficult to heal from injuries. It makes it harder to adjust to the frequent changes that come with military service. Often, depression for military personnel is accompanied by symptoms of PTSD and/or traumatic brain injury.
Is it Depression or Just a Bad Day/Week/Month?
Depression is different than just feeling down. If you have the blues, you might feel sad or worried about something specifically or in general, but the feeling doesn’t last forever and doesn’t prevent you from going about your normal activities. Depression, on the other hand, can turn you from an active, happy person into someone who can’t get out of bed or who doesn’t feel like he could ever be happy again. Depression can completely incapacitate even the strongest of people.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling hopeless, lost, empty, or numb
- Feeling overly tired with no energy
- Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep enough
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
- Losing interest in activities that used to bring you enjoyment or happiness
- A new urge to overeat or a lack of desire to eat at all accompanied by sudden weight gain or weight loss
- Seeking out reckless behaviors more often (drinking heavily, abusing drugs, taking major physical risks, etc.) far more often than you used to and as a way to escape your thoughts and feelings
- You feel there is no release from negative feelings and thoughts, that they are constant
- You can’t snap out of it or cheer yourself up
If you experience any of these symptoms, you may be clinically depressed.
Many things can cause depression, from enduring prolonged periods of stress during combat, to brain injury, to an imbalance in your brain chemistry. Whatever has triggered your depression, it needs to be identified in order to be able to treat and relieve it. You may find relief from medications a doctor can prescribe or from therapy and counseling. Frequently, the best treatments include a variety of different approaches.
If you or a family member is in the military and is experiencing the symptoms of depression, don’t wait to get help. If you are also suffering from PTSD, anxiety, or injury to the body or brain, it is even more imperative that you seek out medical and/or psychiatric help so that you can heal. Schedule a consultation with a therapist and talk to your doctor, clergy person, a friend, or a family member now.
Dallas Behavioral helps military personnel and their families overcome the debilitating effects of depression and other mental health and substance abuse issues. Our highly experienced clinical staff can design inpatient and outpatient programs tailored to your needs. Visit our Homepage to learn more about our programs and how we can assist you.