Combat exposure and mental health have been shown to be related in veterans and civilians.  For example, frequent and severe combat exposure has been shown to be associated with PTSD.  In fact, being exposed to potentially traumatic situations is a primary risk factor for behavioral health issues when existing in a combat setting. In this study there were thirty different combat experience items that were measured on a consistent basis by Mental Health Advisory Teams (MHATs). The results were not surprising, and show that there is a relationship between combat exposure and mental health of the service member experienced and their overall psychological well-being.  The graph below shows the percentage of soldiers that met the criteria for having psychological problems and how that relates to the number of times they were exposed to combat.  Clearly, more combat exposure results in more psychological distress and problems.

According to this chart what is significant is the number of different combat events that a soldier is exposed to, rather than the time deployed that raises the risk for PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and of course all the depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts and behaviors that can result. This shows that combat exposure and mental health go hand-in-hand; repeated combat exposure and mental health problems correspondingly increase.

If you sum up the number of times a soldier was exposed to combat situations you can determine fluctuations in combat experiences over a number of years. The study showed that from 2009 to 2013 there were a lot fewer combat related experiences reported by soldiers in 2013 than in 2010 and 2012, however the figure was significantly more than was reported in 2009.

In studying combat exposure it is helpful to put the combat related experiences into five different categories by degree of severity:

  1. Fighting
  2. Killing
  3. Threat to self
  4. Injury or death to others
  5. Atrocities

In previous studies MHATs considered multiple deployments as another risk factor for psychological problems. For Non-commissioned Officers (NCOs) it was shown that there was a significant relationship concerning the individual soldier’s morale and for unit morale when there were multiple deployments. What was shown was that NCOs who had been deployed multiple times do have significantly lower morale. They are also more likely to have PTSD than NCOs who have been deployed for the first time.

Since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began the U.S. military has been inundated with soldiers having mental-health issues. As you can see on the graph troops seem able to handle several combat experiences but when their numbers increase to 10 and more combat experiences, their mental health begins to suffer. Combat exposure and mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, PTST, TBI and of course suicide, are more likely.

Because our treatment for depression and anxiety programs rely on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in seven peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.  Unfortunately, in Tennessee, about 3.7% of all adults will have serious thoughts of suicide.  Furthermore, less half of all individuals with any mental illness in Tennessee will receive mental health treatment.

Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting. It is also important to keep in mind that women and men often experience depression differently and therefore the presence of depression may also appear differently based on gender. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, including PTSD, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful.  People who have completed our program have provide very high consumer satisfaction scores and reviewsCall us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.