The National Institute of Mental Health states that nearly
According to a 2020 report from the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), there are approximately 19 million U.S. veterans. Slightly more than 1.7 million of them have received treatment in a VA mental health specialty program. Below, we review the common mental disorders veterans face, available treatment options, and the signs for seeking professional help.
Most Common Mental Health Issues in Veterans
The high stress of military life and prolonged separation from loved ones can affect veterans’ mental health, which is why attention to this area of well-being is essential. Disorders that develop more frequently include
The constant state of alertness and the high-stress nature of military duties can contribute to anxiety. It is characterized by persistent worrying, restlessness, sleep problems, and difficulty concentrating. According to a survey conducted across four primary care clinics of the Veteran Affairs Medical Centers (VAMC), it was found that
In addition to GAD, other diagnoses include social anxiety, specific phobias, and panic disorder if a person experiences panic attacks. Any anxiety disorder may start impacting a person’s day-to-day life, including work and relationships.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
As the name suggests, post-traumatic stress disorder can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, ranging from the loss of a loved one to an accident. Symptoms of PTSD include severe anxiety, flashbacks of traumatic events, nightmares, insomnia, hypervigilance, and avoidance behaviors. There may also be physical symptoms, such as discomfort, sweating, nausea, and shivering.
Veterans who have been exposed to intense combat, engaged in wartime conflicts, endured the loss of fellow soldiers, or confronted life-threatening situations are at higher risk of developing PTSD. Findings from the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study indicate the current prevalence of
Consider consulting with a healthcare professional if you experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Depression, or major depressive disorder (MDD), is characterized by persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities, decreased self-esteem, and feelings of hopelessness, unworthiness, and guilt. Veterans face challenges when they get back to civilian life, including coping with physical injuries. Some of them may experience a decrease in their sense of purpose and camaraderie, which can contribute to low moods and depression.
The prevalence of depression among U.S. veterans, as reported by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), is
National Efforts for Veteran Mental Health
Numerous organizations and government agencies are taking steps to provide support and resources to help veterans address mental health issues. Some of the prominent initiatives and programs are the following:
- The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Services: The VA offers a wide range of mental health services, including counseling, therapy, and medications for different conditions. They have centers and professionals dedicated to veteran mental health.
- Non-profit organizations: Various non-profit organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project, Gary Sinise Foundation, and Veterans of Foreign Wars provide veterans with counseling, support groups, and assistance in navigating available resources.
- Community outreach: Various communities across the United States are working to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues among veterans. Rural Veterans Health Initiative by NRHA and US Veteran Outreach are among the most renowned communities offering help.
- Research and innovation: Ongoing research is conducted to better understand veteran mental health issues and develop effective treatment strategies.
What Can Veterans Do to Feel Better
Mental health challenges often lead to avoidance behaviors, exacerbating the issues. That’s why staying connected with friends and family is important, as social support significantly contributes to mental well-being. Physical activity and exercise are also known to reduce stress and boost mood. Additionally, relaxation techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing can help reduce anxiety and promote emotional well-being.
If you experience mental health issues that interfere with your daily life, reach out to MEDvidi, and our medical providers will recommend a suitable treatment plan.
Society should recognize our veterans’ sacrifices and provide them with care and support to address their mental health, honoring their heroism. It is also essential for veterans to understand the right time to seek assistance if there are any mental health concerns.
If you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, especially severe anxiety, combat flashbacks, sleep disturbances, avoidance behaviors, or suicidal thoughts, consider seeing a medical provider. Early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better outcomes and improve the quality of life.
Contact MEDvidi today to schedule an appointment with a highly qualified medical practitioner and receive personalized recommendations.