NAMI Depression & Veterans Fact Sheet

Posted by Ellen Simon on 19th May 2016

Depression is one of the most common and expensive mental disorders costing the US an est $66B/year.

Veterans diagnosed with depression account for more than 14% of the total. From 2000- 2007 medical records of more than 206,000 veteran entering the VA health care system were assessed. Findings revealed that 1 in 3 patients was diagnosed with at least 1 mental health disorder- 41 % were diagnosed with either a mental health or behavioral adjustment disorder. The diagnosis for PTSD was 20% followed by 14% for depression yet studies show that depression is under-diagnosed for the population.

What is depression?

Clinical depression is a serious medical illness that is much more than temporarily feeling sad or blue. It involves disturbances in mood, concentration, sleep, activity level, interests, appetite, and social behavior, Although depression is highly treatable, it is frequently a lifelong condition in which period of wellness alternate with recurrence of illness

What are the symptoms of depression?

• Feelings of sadness, emptiness or unhappiness

• Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters

• Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, such as sex

• Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much

• Tiredness and lack of energy, so that even small tasks take extra effort

• Changes in appetite — often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people

• Anxiety, agitation or restlessness — for example, excessive worrying, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still

• Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements

• Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that are not your responsibility

• Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things

• Frequent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide

• Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

• For some people, depression symptoms are so severe that it's obvious something isn't right.

• Other people feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.

Source: National Association on Mental Illness Depression and Veterans Fact Sheet, October 2009