Mental health issues plague the lives of many of our veterans. These issues bring with them problems for the veterans and the people they love. It can make transitioning back to civilian life very difficult. Let’s take a look at three common mental health issues faced by our veterans.
Depression is rampant among veterans. It is important for veterans and their loved ones to understand that depression is an illness. Many veterans and their families hold a misguided view that depression is a sign of weakness or something that they should be able to get over, but this is far from the truth. Depression is often a debilitating illness for veterans. It interferes or interrupts their ability to function in daily life. It can cause fatigue, prolonged sadness, trouble concentrating, agitation, thoughts of suicide and many other symptoms for the veteran. Depression for veterans can be caused by the painful experiences or losses experienced during war. It can also be caused by feelings of guilt or regret. The good news is depression is highly treatable, but the bad news is it is often a lifelong battle. Veterans who seek treatment for their depression will often have times when the symptoms are non-existent and other times when the depression symptoms will manifest again. It is important that veterans and their families seek help for depression. If depression is not treated, the symptoms will worsen and can and does lead to suicide in veterans.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
A traumatic brain injury is usually caused by a blow to the head which for veterans can come from blasts, vehicle accidents, and gunshot wounds. Many veterans suffer from a traumatic brain injury. The symptoms can include headaches, fatigue, memory loss, mood swings, feeling dizzy, sensitivity to noise and light, trouble focusing, and depression. Veterans who experience these symptoms should seek medical help to check for a traumatic brain injury. There are certain actions that need to be taken and also medications that should not be taken with this type of injury. Attempting to cope with these symptoms and not having them checked can cause symptoms to worsen, especially cognitive and emotional symptoms. A medical professional can provide treatment that is appropriate for the specific injury and also provide ways to cope with the symptoms.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that affects the lives of many veterans. PTSD is caused by some type of trauma. For veterans, this trauma is combat and loss associated with combat. Veterans who are diagnosed with PTSD usually experience long lasting effects of the disorder. The symptoms of PTSD can include jumpiness, anxiety, anger, nightmares, and trouble sleeping. PTSD can lead to depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and is often found to be a major factor in the suicide rate among veterans. PTSD is treated in veterans in two ways, psychotherapy and medication. Often veterans are treated for PTSD with a combination of these two. It is very important that PTSD in veterans be treated because the effects of symptoms can be detrimental to the veteran’s well-being and the well-being of the veteran’s loved ones and their relationship with the veteran.
Unfortunately, these mental health conditions are far more prevalent in veterans than we would hope. Many wartime veterans experience one or more of these mental health conditions. In fact, these three mental health conditions are often interconnected. For example, both traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder can lead to depression or have depression as a symptom. Veterans and their families often suffer in silence when help is available. Veterans and their families can seek help through the Veteran’s Administration, as well as organizations and programs like the Warrior Care Network and the Combat Stress Recovery Project. The most important thing is to recognize the symptoms and get help before it is too late.
If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please feel free to contact us.