Depression among Veterans

It is tragically common for military veterans to suffer from a wide range of emotional and psychological disorders, including the following:

  • Addiction
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Depression

For some veterans, these symptoms are directly related to post traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD. This condition, which is caused by exposure to emotionally intense experiences such as violent crime, natural disasters or a close proximity to the death of friends or loved ones, can be physically and mentally devastating.

Depression and PTSD

The brain manages many critical emotional functions through a fragile system of chemical signals and responses in the central nervous system. When a person experiences intense trauma, his brain may shut down in certain sections as a self-defense reflex. Due to this, the brain can often not fully process the traumatic experience and may experience painful symptoms, including the following:

  • Panic attacks
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares and sleeplessness
  • Memory problems
  • Inability to effectively manage emotions

These stressful symptoms often lead to self-medication through substance abuse, which in turn leads to addiction.

The part of the brain most directly connected to PTSD and depression is the hippocampus. This is the same area that manages memory, emotions, stress management, impulse control, sexual response and appetite. While clinical depression often involves persistent sadness, another telling symptom is emotional numbness. The chemical system that manages feelings, optimism, motivation and ambition may simply shut down. Drug and alcohol abuse and compulsive behaviors such as gambling, self-injury or sex addiction can all be attempts by the brain to feel relief.

Successfully Treating Depression

Depression is a serious disease that can affect a veteran with or without PTSD. Treating it may require a careful and thorough examination of the patient and a detailed diagnosis of all aspects of the disorder. There are several different types of counseling that have proven to be effective in the rehabilitative process, including dialectical behavior therapy. Specialized treatment programs can help veterans to overcome depression along with any other complications associated with it.

Finding Help for Veterans with Depression

Many veterans may be reluctant to seek help for depression if they fear that it will make them seem weak. The truth is that depression is a disease that often involves chemical imbalances or physiological damage to the brain. While attitudes toward mental health treatment are improving, many veterans continue to suffer in silence hoping their depression will go away.

If you are a veteran struggling with PTSD or depression, or if someone in your life fits this description, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day with professional, sympathetic and confidential advice and help. We can connect you with the best treatment program for your specific needs and can even confirm insurance or VA coverage that might be able to help with the costs. The call is free and private so there is no reason to struggle alone. Please call now.