Leaving the military to join the civilian lifestyle after years of being enlisted is a challenging transition. An awareness of how much life has changed in civilian life does not come to light until the time comes to find a job, jump back into family life, or visit old friends. Military habits are difficult to change or leave behind. Others may find the Veteran too regimented for civilian life, causing stress and anxiety to develop. Depression after leaving the military is normal to experience.
Why Do Veterans Face Depression After the Military?
The drastic change from living within the military culture with strict rules and habits to living in the relaxed civilian lifestyle is overwhelming. Transitioning for a large percentage can lead to mental health issues like depression after leaving the military. Suddenly being thrust into civilian life standards and culture is harder than the Veteran expected. Civilian relationships have different cultural rules that have been long forgotten and can force feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Veterans have a different skillset after being in the military that is not especially needed in civilian life. Military positions include training for a specific job, no degree is necessary, but in civilian life, there are certifications, college degrees, and experience required to secure employment. Finding employment in the civilian world is one of the biggest challenges Veterans face. Rejection can cause a lack of confidence and hurt self-esteem, causing Veterans to face depression after leaving the military. Finding a job with purpose is much harder in civilian life. This was an important element of work in the military.
Medical needs after leaving the military can be difficult to attend to if there is not a Veterans’ facility close to the Veteran. Stresses such as finding a vehicle that can travel to where the care is, long wait times for appointments, and fear of the stigma of mental health can cause overwhelming irritations. Keeping up with any injuries, mental health issues, and medications presents a new level of frustration that can lead to depression after leaving the military.
How Can Veterans Curb Depression Symptoms?
Veterans with depression after leaving the military can curb the depression symptoms they are experiencing by making a choice to develop new coping mechanisms during the transition. Understanding and identifying the symptoms of depression can be helpful in reaching out for help. If medication for depression is already prescribed, speaking to a medical professional about symptoms being experienced could mean a change in medication or dosage. Counseling and group therapy can help with the transition and lifestyle changes that could be the major cause of depression.
Symptoms of depression can include:
- Feeling hopeless and sad
- Losing the ability to find joy in daily activities
- Difference in mood or others noticing difference in moods
- Change in sleep and eating habits
- Feeling extremely tired or feeling like you are unable to get moving
- Feeling anxious, nervous or stressed
Veterans with depression after leaving the military who are integrating into civilian life can form new daily habits as positive and healthy coping mechanisms. Depression is a highly treatable mental illness. Making small positive changes such as the following can lead to big results with depression symptoms.
- Walk, jog, or exercise on a daily basis
- Eat healthy meals regularly
- Sleep regular hours nightly
- Practice relaxation techniques or deep breathing
- Take on a new hobby or volunteer in the community
How Depression Can Lead to Addiction
Depression can lead to addiction to alcohol or other drugs very easily. Using alcohol or substances to quell the depression symptoms while making things temporarily feel better is easy to do. Frequency can escalate into an addiction if continued on a regular basis. Addiction can develop with little or no thought to what is happening. Veterans with depression after leaving the military find it easy to rely on drinking alcohol as an accepted military practice.
Unfortunately, the few drinks at happy hour or sitting home alone every day turn into more drinks to ease the pain. Building a tolerance to alcohol happens quickly. Drinking more and more can develop into a need for something else to feel better, and Veterans can easily search out drugs to relieve their symptoms. Veterans with depression after leaving the military need to reach out to family or friends for help in breaking this negative habit. The most important part of joining civilian life is learning how to communicate with family and friends, feeling hopeful that things can get better.
Depression Treatment Options for Veterans
Establishing treatment for depression can be as simple as reaching out to a doctor or mental health professional to explain your symptoms. If depression has already been diagnosed in the military, seeking help with the VA or private sector doctors can look at the dosage of medication prescribed and reevaluate your condition and treatment. Veterans with depression after leaving the military have many options for individual and group counseling. Many private sector facilities offer understanding help for Veterans experiencing difficult transition periods back into civilian life.
Treatment for Depression After Leaving the Military
Veterans with depression after leaving the military have resources they can contact with Sunrise Veterans Health. We offer a professional and well-trained staff offering answers and treatment options for Veterans with depression after leaving the military. Those that may have also developed a substance use disorder can find help here as well. Call or visit our admissions page today and find the peace of mind and relief you have been searching for.