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Veterans and Depression: The Battle to Heal the Wounds of War

Men and women who enroll in the military service are now at risk for developing different mental health disorders, according to the Institute of Medicine. According to them, military service in a war zone increases a service members' chance of developing post-traumatic stress disorder, other anxiety disorders, and depression. Serving in a war also increases the chances of alcohol abuse, accidental death, and suicide within the first few years after leaving the war zone. War veterans are also prone to marital and family conflict, including domestic violence due to their psychological and emotional distress. These trouble signs have prompted the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the scientific and medical evidence concerning associations between deployment-related stress and long term adverse effects on health.

Issues with drug abuse, incarceration, unexplained illnesses, chronic fatigue syndrome, gastrointestinal symptoms, skin diseases, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain may also be associated with the stress of being in a war, but the evidence to support these links is weaker. For other health problems and adverse effects that the committee reviewed, the information lacks or is contradictory; the committee could not determine whether links between these ailments and deployment-related stress exist.

Although the report cannot give definite answers regarding the connection between these health problems and the stress of war, it is clear that veterans who were deployed to war zones self-report more medical conditions and poorer health than veterans who were not deployed. The committee found out that those who were deployed and have post-traumatic stress disorder in particular tend to report more symptoms and poorer health. Post-traumatic stress disorder often occurs together with other anxiety disorders, depression, and substance abuse. Its prevalence and severity is associated with an increased exposure to combat.

A continuous obstacle in obtaining better evidence that would yield clear answers is lack of pre- and post-deployment screenings of physical, mental, and emotional status. Conducting comprehensive, standardized evaluations of service member's medical conditions, psychiatric symptoms and diagnosis, and psychosocial status and trauma history before and after deployment to war zones is necessary, according to the US Department of Defense. Such screenings would provide baseline information for comparisons and data to determine long term consequences of deployment-related stress. In addition, they would help identify at-risk personnel who might benefit from targeted intervention programs during deployment, such as marital counseling or therapy for psychiatric or other disorders, and help the necessary organizations choose in which intervention programs to implement for veterans adjusting to post-deployment life.

It is a long battle between countries, and the only thing that could make these people at war happy would be the memories of their family and friends. Such psychological illnesses or disorders can happen almost anytime, since these people are vulnerable to their environment. War is such a negative concept to look at, and these people experience war each time they wake up. Such negativity is bound to take its toll to the person, whether they may have good relations back at home. By simply looking back at those happy moments, these people at war would really appreciate life compared to what they see now.

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