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PTSD and Depression in the Military

Currently in America there are over 2 million active military personnel and 23.5 million veterans if the Reserves and National Guard are included.  Just about 1 in 5 Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans suffer from either PTSD or depression.  Although there are no definite numbers on the number of military veterans of these wars who have substance abuse problems around 3 in 4 veterans in Vietnam who experienced combat and had PTSD also had substance abuse problems.

Military veterans who either have PTSD or depression are much more prone to have drug problems, drinking problems, more legal troubles, be in worse health, experience more trauma throughout their life and have psychiatric symptoms.  An extensive study also concluded that these veterans were also much more prone to be arrested.  However, only about half of military veterans with mental disorders ever sought.

PTSD and Depression as the Result of Combat

In 2007 a DOD task force reported that experiencing combat can cause “hidden wounds” like PTSD and combat stress.  Some symptoms as the result of combat include using drugs or alcohol, being extremely irritable, high risk and reckless behavior and the inability to control anger.

PTSD occurs most frequently after returning from being deployed when they are stateside.  A major cause of PTSD is experiencing or witnessing combat.  Being deployed multiple times and for long durations of time also contributes to an increased probability of having PTSD.

PTSD and Depression: Behavioral Problems

Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans have participated in a new effort to evaluate the mental health of returning service members coming back being deployed.  The Post Deployment Health Assessment (PDHA) is used to evaluate returning members upon arrival home and they are evaluated once more after 3 to 6 months.  The studies by the PDHA have concluded that mental problems are most prevalent for Iraqi War veterans when being contrasted with other military deployments.  The initial evaluation showed that for members of both the Army and Marines, 1 in 5 have at minimum one mental problem if they were involved in combat in Iraq.  To delve deeper into these numbers, women were more susceptible to problems than men and also the Reserves and National Guard had a higher rate of mental problems when compared to service members that were on active duty.

When the PDHA followed up 3 to 6 months after returning from a deployment they found that social and mental problems were much more prevalent.  Just like the initial evaluation, the Reserves and National Guard reported more problems when compared with members who were active duty.  But for all groups that were evaluated, the follow-up showed that the mental problems were greater.  Also, in the initial evaluation of all members who were deployed to Iraq, they showed a sharp increase in the problems in their relationship with their significant other.  Likewise the risk of mental problems for acuity duty members doubled to over 35% when comparing the initial and follow-up evaluations.  For all members who saw combat there were very significant increases in mental problems like PTSD and depression.

Service members must be assessed and screened in order to evaluate their problems and come up with a specific treatment for them based on behavioral science.

PTSD and Depression: Integrated Screening and Analysis

Biiopsychosocial and comprehensive assessments must be done in order to help veterans who have mental problems get help early on in the process.  Mental conditions such as PTSD and depression don’t happen overnight.  Therapists who do the first evaluation need to have training so they can flag the early signs of substance abuse or mental problems and start treatment as soon as possible so the problems can be addressed quickly.

Because our treatment center relies 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 PTSD and depression, as well as 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 six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.   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.  If you or a loved one is showing signs of PTSD, depression or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan that can result in recovery.  Treatment for PTSD, depression and anxiety can be highly successful.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.