Home Blog

Insights Into Veterans’ Mental Health Challenges

Veterans’ mental health
Written by:

Wafaa Amjad Dar

Pharm-D
Reviewer:

Chelsea Ozigboh

NP

Content

Medical Disclaimer
The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs.Read more

The National Institute of Mental Health states that nearly one in five U.S. adults [1*] live with a mental illness. These conditions are prevalent in various segments of the population, and veterans are no exception.

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 depression, post-traumatic stress disorder [2*] (PTSD), anxiety, and alcohol misuse [4*] [3*] . These issues may arise either during their time of service or later.

Anxiety Disorders

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 12% [5*] of veterans suffered from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

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 4.8% of U.S. veterans [6*] experiencing PTSD.

Consider consulting with a healthcare professional if you experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mental Health Conditions in Veterans

Depression

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 12.3% [7*] .

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.

In Conclusion

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.

Sources

hide
+7 sources
  1. Mental Illness
    Source link
  2. Veteran and Military Mental Health Issues. (2023)
    Source link
  3. Prevalence of common mental health disorders in military veterans: using primary healthcare data
    Source link

  4. Source link
  5. Prevalence and features of generalized anxiety disorder in Department of Veteran Affairs primary care settings. (2023)
    Source link
  6. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in the US Veteran Population: Results From the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study. (2022)
    Source link
  7. The prevalence and trend of depression among veterans in the United States. (2019)
    Source link
Show more
Written by:

Wafaa Amjad Dar

Pharm-D
Reviewer:

Chelsea Ozigboh

NP
Share
Tags

Content

Prioritize your mental well-being

Consult a healthcare professional online and receive a treatment plan tailored to your needs.

Recommended Articles

Join our newsletter

Sign up to receive mental health news and tips delivered right in your inbox every month.

EXPERIENCE GENUINE AND PROFESSIONAL MENTAL HEALTH CARE - YOU DO DESERVE THE BEST.

Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.