For members of the active duty military community, there is a stigma around seeking help and accepting mental health services. It is often difficult to relate to others in treatment, and reaching out is sometimes considered “weak.” However, seeking mental health treatment, especially while active in the military, is essential and normal.
Going through violent and traumatic experiences in the military can lead to a number of mental health concerns. Some of these include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, post-traumatic injury, and substance abuse.
The symptoms of mental health struggles may fall under any of these categories:
- Impulse disorders
- Struggling with an evolving worldview
- Strained relationships
- Struggling with life transitions
While on active duty, it is a priority to take care of individual needs both physically and mentally. If experiencing these symptoms or noticing any changes in behavior, it is wise to seek help or treatment to re-guide you and develop a healthier way of living while on duty.
At Roots Recovery, these concerns and struggles are treated in various ways. We help those on active military duty focus on gaining a deeper understanding of mental health struggles and trauma and how to cope with such.
Mental Health and Active Duty Military
Mental health in the military community is becoming more of a focus and priority. More resources and services are provided for those in the military as mental health becomes more normalized. With rising mental health concerns in the military, it is essential to reach out as soon as signs are noticeable and affect your daily life or career.
The Department of Defense has worked more on its approach to mental health, acknowledging that untreated struggles can pose more of a danger to yourself and the community than seeking treatment. As a result, more services are being offered and encouraged that are catered towards active duty military members.
About 14-16% of service members deployed have experiences with PTSD or depression. Traumatic brain injury, substance abuse, violence, and suicide also significantly impact this community. It is riskier to ignore the issue than find a necessary solution to improve your career and the rest of your life.
By receiving mental health treatment, the coping mechanisms learned throughout treatment can be applied throughout your career. For instance, if you work on how to deal with processing a traumatic event in a healthy way, you can apply that mechanism if another event occurs. Therefore, seeking and actively participating in treatment can help throughout active duty.
Common Struggles Among Military Populations
PTSD, depression, anxiety, and chronic pain are common among the active duty military community. Recognizing the signs of these struggles can help the active duty military community know when they may need to seek professional help.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD is a mental health disorder that develops after experiencing trauma. The signs of PTSD include the following:
- Nightmares or flashbacks of the traumatic event(s)
- Avoidance of places or things that remind you of trauma
- Guilt or shame
- Loss of interest in activities
- Difficulty expressing positive emotions
Depression and Anxiety
Anxiety and depression are common struggles in the military community. Depression is a mood disorder that causes “symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.” Symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling sad, anxious, or “empty”
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Irritability, frustration, or restlessness
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
- Loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Trouble concentrating
- Problems with sleeping (oversleeping or not sleeping enough)
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Anxiety causes feelings of worry or fear that do not go away and interfere with everyday life. Different types of anxiety disorders will have different symptoms. However, all anxiety disorders have a combination of the following:
- Thoughts and beliefs: Anxious thoughts and beliefs, feelings of restlessness due to these thoughts, and thoughts worsen over time
- Physical symptoms: Pounding or rapid heartbeat, unexplained aches and pains, dizziness, or shortness of breath
- Changes in behavior: Avoiding everyday activities due to feelings of anxiety
Chronic pain is something the military may also struggle with, as active duty can put a strain on the body. Signs of chronic pain include:
- Negative thoughts
- PTSD symptoms
- Certain environments trigger pain flare-ups
- Worsening pain in a region of the body
- Increased sensitivity to touch, temperature, movement, or light
- Moderate to high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression that are related to the pain
When Active Duty Military Should Seek Help
Knowing the right time to seek help can be difficult. Once an individual recognizes signs they are struggling with and acknowledges their effect on their life, seeking treatment is the next step.
Recognizing specific signs of struggle can help individuals work with mental health professionals to make their treatment plan as specified as possible. In a specified treatment plan, clients receive the most exact care to improve their mental health both in the moment and long-term outside of treatment.
In treatment, an individual will target their symptoms and understand their mental processing on a deeper level. In individual and group therapies at Roots Recovery, our clients learn how their brain processes information and starts to learn how to cope with trauma as it presents itself.
Group therapies, specifically, help develop a sense of community and support. With some group therapy practices, families and loved ones may be involved, deepening that level of support and care to follow clients outside of treatment as they transition back into active duty. Long-term success is significant not only for active duty military members but all clients at Roots Recovery.
Here at Roots Recovery, we work to provide support and care for specific communities, including but not limited to the active duty military community. With this community, we work to create a treatment plan that supports them as individuals and members of the military. We emphasize support and encouragement for the military community, helping them recognize that seeking help does not make them weak but improves their lives and careers. We hope to provide support and implement programs that may be useful for them outside of treatment, specifically coping mechanisms that can be applied in their careers. Call Roots Recovery at (562) 473-0827 to learn more about our services catered towards active duty military members.