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Recent research shows that about 25to 30 percent of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan report symptoms of a mental disorder. Untreated mental health issues can result in long-term problems for you, your family, and your community, so it's important to see your doctor or a counselor if you're feeling depressed, sad, or anxious.
If you served in the military, you are at risk for mental health problems as a result of your experiences or injuries. These mental health issues may include:
Home life struggles are also common, and can include marital and caregiver stress, elder abuse or neglect, and problems with parenting anger management. These types of relationship challenges can build on already existing mental health problems or lead to them.
Are you thinking of suicide? If yes, please do the following –
PTSD can occur after you have been through a traumatic event. A traumatic event is something horrible and scary that you see or that happens to you.
If you are in the military, you may have seen combat. You may have been on missions that exposed you to horrible and life-threatening experiences. You may have been shot at, seen a friend shot, or seen death. These are types of events that can lead to PTSD.
Women are more likely than men to develop chronic, or long-lasting, PTSD after experiencing a trauma. Not all women who experience a traumatic event develop PTSD. However, women are more likely to develop PTSD if they:
Some PTSD symptoms are more common in women than in men. Women are more likely to be jumpy, to have trouble feeling emotions, and to avoid things that remind them of the trauma.
PTSD can be treated. A doctor or mental health professional with experience in treating people with PTSD can help you. Treatment may include "talk" therapy, medication, or both.
Treatment might take 6 to 12 weeks. For some people, it takes longer. Treatment is not the same for everyone. What works for you might not work for someone else.
Remember: drinking alcohol or using other drugs will not help PTSD go away, and may even make it worse.
Military sexual trauma (MST) is sexual harassment or sexual assault that happens while you are in the military.
Sexual harassment may include:
Sexual assault is any kind of sexual activity you don't want. It can include:
MST can happen during war, peace, or training. It can be man-to-woman, woman-to-man, woman-to-woman, or man‑to‑man. If you've experienced MST, you may feel fear, shame, anger, embarrassment, or guilt. You may feel it is hard to trust people. You may even have physical symptoms like headaches, diarrhea, chronic fatigue, or gynecological problems.
If you've experience military sexual trauma (MST), or intimate partner violence (IPV) as a result of MST, you can contact your nearest Veteran's Administration (VA) facility to speak with the MST coordinator. Every VA facility has providers knowledgeable about treatment for the aftereffects of MST. Many have specialized outpatient mental health services focusing on sexual trauma.
In addition, the following phone numbers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It may be helpful to memorize them in case of emergency.
IPV is also known as domestic violence. IPV is when a current or former partner uses behaviors or threats that can make you feel scared, controlled, or intimidated. A relationship in which IPV occurs is an abusive relationship.
IPV could include any of the following:
Relationships can be complicated in general. A relationship with IPV can be overwhelming and confusing. Sometimes it can be hard to know if you have experienced IPV. The following questions give some examples of unsafe behaviors that can happen in a relationship.
MST survivors are more likely to experience other kinds of violence, such as IPV. Not much is known about which things make someone more likely to hurt their spouse or partner. But PTSD may make a person more likely to hurt or threaten their partner.
While IPV itself is not a mental disorder, a number of mental health diagnoses are associated with being a victim of IPV. IPV can lead to PTSD, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and other mental health problems.
A doctor or mental health professional with experience in treating people who experience IPV can help you. Treatment may include "talk" therapy, medication, or both.
Content last updated: March 29, 2010.