What the Numbers say about Mental Health in the Military

Introduction

In 2014, a study published by JAMA Psychiatry (Journal of the American Medical Association) regarding the mental health of military personnel suggested almost 25% of active-duty personnel displayed signs of mental health conditions.

Mental Health

Military personnel can typically face several types of mental health conditions, including traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and major depressive disorder (MDD) among others. Each of these conditions can be significantly more pronounced among military personnel compared to their civilian population. For example, MDD is estimated to be five times greater among military personnel than civilians, while PTSD is fifteen times greater among military personnel than it is with civilians.

Statistics on the mental health and wellness of veterans in the US Army, presented by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing (NCMW) suggest an even greater number of reserve military personnel and active-duty personnel in and around Afghanistan and Iraq suffering from mental health conditions that required treatment. Approximately 30% of military personnel in combat situations, with approximately 730,000 personnel (both men and women) who struggled with MDD and PTSD. Unfortunately, as many as 50% of veterans who returned to their home country received no treatment for their mental health conditions, even though there are reputable treatment centres out there. Even more startling – as reported by the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) – is that some 22 veterans commit suicide every single day.

Statistics on MDD Episodes Experienced by US Veterans (2016 to 2019)

Leading stats portal Statista published, in January 2021, data over 4 years regarding the percentage of veterans who suffered from a major depressive episode between 2016 and 2019, by age group.

Year18-25 Year Olds26-49 Year Olds50+ Year Olds
20169.8%8%3.2%
201713.4%10.7%4.1%
201811.2%11.2%3.6%
20198.7%9.8%4.4%

The VA lists several evidence-based treatment options for depression, which includes:

  • Behavioural activation (BA).
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy for depression (IPT-D).
  • Problem-solving therapy (PST).
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy for depression CBT-D).
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy for depression (ACT-D).

A US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved treatment for depression is BrainsWay Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS™). Deep TMS is proven to yield significant results by stimulating deeper parts of the brain associated with depression. TMS therapy works by ‘rewiring the neural network’ and bringing about relief from symptoms of depression. Deep TMS is also FDA approved to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and smoking addiction.

Major Depression among US Military Personnel 

A 2012 study on the prevalence of major depression among US military personnel suggested:

  • Currently deployed personnel: approximately 12%.
  • Previously deployed personnel: 13.1%.
  • Never deployed personnel: 5.7%.

Research suggests that military servicemen and women are more likely to experience depression compared to civilians, with approximately 14% of veterans experiencing a mental health disorder after being deployed. Symptoms of depression include loss of interest in hobbies and fun activities, sleep problems, irritability, concentration difficulties, appetite changes, suicidal thoughts or behaviours, and isolation.

Depression can be brought about by many different factors such as the death of an active service military parent, absentee parents, or the stresses brought on by military life. Often, children left behind while parents are deployed will have to contend with a changed or ‘damaged’ parent upon returning to civilian life. This can manifest in a variety of psychiatric effects, including depression and anxiety-related disorders.

Summary

Given the high prevalence of depression among active-duty personnel, reserve duty personnel, and military families, all necessary resources must be made available for treating and managing a range of mental health conditions. Treatments typically include medication, therapy, surgical procedures and non-surgical alternatives. For treatment-resistant depression, Deep TMS can be used in conjunction with other measures to bring about significant relief from depressive symptoms and an improvement in general disposition.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.