JULY 9, 2015, by Brooke Chaplan – When veterans return home today, they face many challenges. In addition to adjusting to everyday life, many also struggle to cope with a mental illness. Many reports have shown that life in war fundamentally affect mental health especially in young service members. Some may not even be diagnosed until much months or years after they return. Veterans who have been diagnosed with a mental disorder can find support and many resources with the VA and should seek treatment from qualified professionals. Below is a list of some of the most common mental illnesses among veterans today and how to find the right treatments.
Clinical depression is a type of mood disorder which can cause persistent feelings of hopelessness and sadness. Soldiers who have seen action, or even if they’ve just been removed from civilian life for extended periods can develop depression. People who suffer from depression may no longer participate in hobbies and activities they once enjoyed. They may feel simple lethargic or out of place, and have a hard time connecting with loved ones.
There are a lot of misconceptions about depression. A person who has depression cannot easily get over it. It is a disorder that has to be treated. Fortunately, most depressed veterans are able to get better with treatment which in most cases includes medications and psychotherapy. Veterans with severe depression may require hospitalization.
This is another problem becoming quite common among today’s veterans. Bipolar disorder causes alternating periods of emotional highs or manic activity followed by extended periods of feeling sad and hopeless. Major life changes and traumatic experiences have been shown to increase a person’s risk of bipolar disorder. Like depression, bipolar disorder can be managed with a combination of treatments, including medication and psychotherapy. Veteran disability benefits might help to cover the cost of medications, but if they deny you, seek legal aid. Ongoing research is being done all the time and support groups may be a big help as well for connecting with others who share this disease.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a type of anxiety disorder that occurs after a person witnesses or experiences a traumatizing event and is the most common disorder in modern veterans. Soldiers may have to come to terms with this disorder after returning home and it may not manifest for years. Recurring dreams about an event, extreme reactions to triggers in memory, sadness, anxiety, sleeping problems, and concentration problems are signs of PTSD. There are different forms of therapy available to help those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, such as cognitive therapy and exposure therapy. Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants like Prazosin, which has been approved specifically for the treatment of PTSD, can also help people manage their disorder.
The traumatic events veterans often experience puts them at risk for mental illnesses. Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety are some of the common mental illnesses today’s veterans face. The good news is there are a variety of ways mental illnesses can be treated and managed and ongoing research shows promise for more good things to come.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.