Today we celebrate Veteran’s Day. Our soldiers place their lives on the line every day when they fight for our freedom. So when they return home, it is critical for us to provide them with any medical resources they need.   In addition to physical injuries, many soldiers return from combat with a variety of mental health issues related to the emotional trauma of war. Tragically, when untreated, these mental health issues can lead to suicide.

Why Suicide Is a Major Issue Among Military Veterans

The suicide rate among veterans is approximately 50 percent higher than that of the average population. Clearly there is a great deal of improvement that must be made and begins with being aware of this increased risk and understanding that all people with mental health problems can find it difficult to ask for or receive help.

Some of the reasons why mental health issues, including suicide, are more common among veterans include:

  • They may have been intimately exposed to injury and death during battle.
  • After completing their duty, they may have a difficult time adjusting to civilian life.
  • In their absence, relationships with their support structures, including family members and friends, can be severely disrupted.

The Signs of Depression To Watch For

Most suicide is the result of severe, clinical depression.  There are several signs that could indicate a veteran is struggling with their mental health. 

Some of the signs of depression to watch for include:

  • Significant changes in their sleep habits. They either sleep all the time, or not at all.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This can manifest with severe anxiety attacks, flashbacks, and emotional irritability.
  • Significant appetite changes, leading to overeating or inadequate nutrition.
  • Significant changes in enjoyment. They may not find pleasure in activities that used to bring them happiness.

The presence of any of these signs or symptoms should prompt concern, especially in a Veteran who has been exposed to battle.

Resources Are Available

Mental illness truly is an illness.  As much as it would be inappropriate to expect someone to just “get over” their high blood pressure, or think their way out of the diabetes, it is inappropriate to expect someone with mental illness to manage on their own.  They need specialized, competent medical care.

This begins with reaching out to a mental health professional. This can be hard due to stubborn, but inaccurate stigma that remain about being mentally ill.  But, the brain is unimaginably complex and it is only logical that it will malfunction at times.  Furthermore, mental illness is one of the most common reasons to see a doctor.  So, it’s important not to allow unfair stigma to lead you to avoid the specialized care you need.

A good place to start is by speaking with your primary care doctor.  Often, they are skilled at managing mental illness or they may refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or therapist. 

But, if things have developed to a crisis point, immediate help is available.  All emergency rooms are capable of helping with mental illness crises .  Anyone with suicidal ideation can call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is alwys available. There is also a Suicide and Crisis Lifeline available by dialing 988.

CapRock Health Provides Our Veterans With the Resources They Need

At CapRock Health, we are incredibly grateful for the service that our veterans have given to our country and our local community. We understand that depression and suicide are major issues among veterans, and we are here to help. We have a team of expert medical professionals who can help you develop a customizable treatment plan to meet your needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with a member of our team.