1 in 4 people will experience mental illness.
Veteran Mental Health Concerns
Men and women who have served, and are currently serving, in the military are heroes for a variety of reasons. Viewed as symbols of bravery and freedom, our Veterans and active military members are a crucial part of our country. Men and women who serve and are physically injured have health care options available immediately upon their return home. However, we are only just beginning to pay closer attention to the mental health strain that serving in our armed forces can cause. Veterans and active military members are at an increased risk for a variety of mental health concerns and conditions.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Many non-service members associate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with military veterans. After all, Vietnam veterans were some of the first to be diagnosed with PTSD either upon their return home or decades later. Fortunately, the mental health community has honed in on PTSD symptoms specific to Veterans and continues to raise awareness among VA and civilian mental health practitioners.
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious mental health condition that occurs after an individual experiences, or sees, a life threatening event. While PTSD can – and does – occur in civilians, there is an increased risk of the disorder in military personnel. Combat and stressful situations may cause returning Veterans to become unable to perform daily tasks. If untreated, PTSD can cause anxiety, depression, and even obsessive compulsive behaviors.
Traumatic Brain Injury
While Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is usually a medical diagnosis rather than a psychological one, the ties between TBI and mental health concerns are strong. Veterans returning home with a TBI, whether mild or severe, can experience symptoms of PTSD, as well as personality changes, depression, or anxiety. In any of these cases, a TBI can feel socially isolating and worrisome for the returning Veteran.
Finally, veterans are at a significantly increased risk for suicide compared to civilians. According to a report from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of 20 veterans died from suicide every day in 2014. The report continues to indicate that after adjusting suicide statistics for age and gender, the risk for suicide was 21% higher for Veterans than it was for civilians.
Depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse issues, and other factors increase the risk of suicide in the veteran population. As a result mental health professionals are ardently advocating for more mental health services and less stigma associated with asking for or receiving help for returning Veterans and active military personnel.
If you, or someone you love, is a Veteran who appears to be living with PTSD, depression, or anxiety, check out our Resources page for local doctors who are available to help.