What is the Mental State of Soldiers and War Veterans Like?

So far, soldiers are described as strong, tough, and valiant. They are often assigned to conflict zones that risk taking their lives. The dangerous assignment also kept him away from his family for months or even years.

However, the psychological condition of soldiers and war veterans is rarely discussed. Is it true that many of them are traumatized?

1. Not a few have post-traumatic stress disorder

What is the Mental State of Soldiers and War Veterans Like?trauma illustration (unsplash.com/Adrian Swancar)

Based on the book entitled Veterans and Military Mental Health Issues published in 2021 explains that about 14–16 percent of troops deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

PTSD is most experienced by disaster victims and people exposed to war, but it can actually affect anyone. This includes survivors of traumatic events such as assault, rape, terror, and accidents.

People with PTSD may have nightmares about past traumas, flashbacks (Flash back), and disturbing thoughts. It causes excessive alertness, trouble sleeping, and avoids recalling certain memories.

2. Some have depression

What is the Mental State of Soldiers and War Veterans Like?depression illustration (pexels.com/Ron Lach)

Still citing the same research, shows that 9 percent of all appointments at military health facilities are related to depression. The military environment is closely related to the development of depression.

Depression can form due to stress from fighting, being separated from loved ones, and seeing yourself and others in danger. All of these increase the risk of depression in both active-duty soldiers and veterans.

In addition, there is an increase in cases of depression in military members before and after being deployed in Afghanistan or Iraq. From the initial only 11.4 percent to 15 percent.

3. In fact, there are those who decide to commit suicide

What is the Mental State of Soldiers and War Veterans Like?illustration of dead person (pixabay.com/soumen82hazra)

Based on research involving 27 states in the United States (US) noted that 17.8 percent of all suicides were committed by veterans. quote US Department of Veterans Affairsthe suicide rate in veterans is 1.5 times greater than in non-veterans.

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As it turned out, that suicide risk increased significantly during their first year outside the military. Reported American Addiction Centersmany veterans suffer from self-destructive behavior, increased alcohol consumption, substance abuse, and feel they have no reason to live.

Suicide rates are higher among older veterans. Based on 2016 data, about 58 percent of all veterans who committed suicide were 55 years of age or older.

Also read: Symptoms of depression are three times higher during lockdown, this is the reason

4. Some people turn their problems to alcohol and drugs

What is the Mental State of Soldiers and War Veterans Like?illicit drugs illustration (canu.gov.gy)

Many still think that mental problems are a sign of weakness and are reluctant to seek professional help. According to a study published in American Journal of Public Health In 2007, many stigmatized soldiers who suffered from mental symptoms as cowards.

In the end, some of them turned to alcohol and illegal substances. Among service members and veterans in the US, alcohol is commonly consumed for stress relief and socializing.

In fact, according to studies on military personnel, about 20 percent of deaths due to high-risk behavior are triggered by alcohol and drug use. One of the causes of death is driving under the influence of alcohol.

5. Many suffer from traumatic brain injuries

What is the Mental State of Soldiers and War Veterans Like?brain injury illustration (cdc.gov)

Based on data from US Department of Defense, more than 313,816 military personnel suffered traumatic brain injuries due to training and combat. A total of 83.5 percent were categorized as mild, 7.5 percent moderate, and 0.5 percent severe.

quote Psychology Today, some people with traumatic brain injury struggle with depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. People who have had repeated brain injuries are at risk for chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

It is a neurodegenerative disorder that is associated with anxiety, depression, changes in memory and impulse control, and suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Well, that’s a picture of the mental condition experienced by some active soldiers and veterans. No need to be ashamed or proud to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist. Isn’t mental health just as important as physical fitness?

Also Read: 8 Impacts of War on Children, Mentally Shaken!