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When military service members are deployed, they often leave behind a spouse and family that needs to “hold up the fort” while they’re gone. Military spouses play an integral role in the family dynamic. They contribute greatly to the overall well-being of the family. Considering this level of responsibility and the unavailability of much-needed support and companionship from their partners, many military spouses struggle with mental illness. Today, our military rehab center is sharing the signs, symptoms, and truth behind military spouse depression and how we can help.
Following the more-than-a-decade-long war in the Middle East, many service members and families have been strained. There have been multiple studies regarding the psychological impact of deployment and combat on servicemen and women, as well as their spouses.
During deployment, military spouses often experience emotional turmoil and destabilization. A partner they want to rely on and spend time with is gone for months and even years at a time, which could put a significant strain not only on their relationship with the individual but the entire family.
What also happens during deployment is spouses must temporarily assume the role of a single parent and cope with the daily stressors of managing the household on their own. This could lead to stress, loneliness, financial struggles, and increased parenting demands. These stressors are intensified by the fear of their spouse’s safety.
Deployment stress can also lead to or exacerbate mental illness in military partners, such as depression, anxiety, and drug abuse. A recent study conducted by King’s College London found that rates of both depression and binge drinking are higher among female spouses of military personnel than those of women outside of the military community.
For the study, researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, & Neuroscience (IoPPN) collected data from 405 women in military families with at least one child. They found that 7% of military partners met the criteria for clinical depression compared to only 3% of women from the general population. Additionally, data also showed that 9.7% of military spouses reported weekly or daily binge drinking episodes, compared to 8.9% in the general population.1
More research from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America also found several factors that increase the risk of military spouse mental health disorders like depression. According to this study, less educational attainment, unemployment, and large family sizes were all linked to a greater risk of military spouse depression. Other factors that could increase this risk are gender (female), being less than 30 years old, combat deployments, PTSD, alcoholism, and the service member’s branch.2
Military service members and their spouses show higher rates of depression than the general population. Also known as major depressive disorder (MDD), depression is a serious mental illness characterized by persistent and intense feelings of sadness for extended periods. This disorder can impact a person’s behavior to the point where they might struggle to get out of bed.
Not only is this disorder difficult to manage for people who aren’t in military families or communities, but it can add to the stress and demands of being a single parent running the home when a spouse is deployed. Occasionally, these individuals may feel as if life isn’t worth living anymore.
Spouse deployment depression can lead to various struggles and problems, most serious of all an increased risk of suicide. If you’re a military spouse or know someone who is, look out for these signs of depression:
In more severe cases of depression, the individual may also experience symptoms of psychosis, such as delusions or hallucinations. Due to a high risk of suicidality among individuals with depression and other distressing symptoms, it’s important to get mental health treatment right away. Our Veterans and active-duty military rehab program offers mental health and drug addiction treatment for veterans as well as their loved ones to ensure that all members of the family receive support.
Unfortunately, depression in the military is common. Fortunately, if you or someone you care about is a military spouse showing signs of depression, anxiety, or experiencing any other struggles, we can help.
The Military and Veterans in Recovery program at Banyan Treatment Centers offers family services for military spouses and parents to offer them the care and support they need to cope with the absence of their loved ones.
For more information about our veterans and military addiction treatment services, call Banyan today at 888-280-4763.
Cognitive Symptoms of Depression