Depression for the military and their partners

 Military service members and their spouses have higher rates of depression than the general population.

  • Depression is a serious condition characterized by persistent and intense feelings of sadness for extended periods.
  • This mood disorder can impact your mood and behaviour. It may also affect various physical functions, such as your appetite and sleep.
  • People with depression often have trouble performing everyday activities. Occasionally, they may also feel as if life isn’t worth living.

Mood disorders in the children of military personnel

  • The death of a parent is a reality for many children in military families. 
  • Experiencing such a devastating loss at a young age significantly increases the risk of depression, anxiety disorders, and behavioural problems in the future. 
  • Even when a parent returns safely from war, children still have to deal with the stress of military life. This often includes absentee parents, frequent moves, and new schools. Emotional and behavioural issues in children may occur as a result of these changes.

The impact of stress on military families

  • Children have to face the challenges that come with having a parent deployed overseas. They also had to cope with living with a parent who may have changed after going to war. Making these adjustments can have a profound impact on a child.
  • Children of parents who have served in the military are also more likely to experience difficulty in school. This is largely due to the stress that children experience during their parent’s deployment as well as after they come home. 
  • The parent who stays behind during a deployment may also experience similar issues. They often fear for their spouse’s safety and feel overwhelmed by increased responsibilities at home. As a result, they may begin to feel anxious, sad, or lonely while their spouse is away. All of these emotions can eventually lead to depression and other mental disorders.
  • Partners will often come back from combat and enter back into their lives outside of the forces (or away from conflict but still in the forces), this can result in increases of domestic violence, higher levels of divorce and martial problems. They may detach from family life which makes it really hard for the partners and their children to adapt.

What can be done to help with these serious concerns?

  • Seek help with whatever difficulties you are having. Reach out to a counsellor, Sheffield Mind have both talking therapies and movement therapies which are specifically designed to work with the families of the armed forces.
  • Try to open up lines of communication with the family member you are concerned about, this can be very hard if they are really finding things difficult and this may not always be advisable.
  • If you are in a relationship where there are children, try and have designated time with your partner where it’s just the two of you. Obviously, this isn’t always possible but it’s important to share that time together where you can begin to start having those conversations which are so hard at the beginning.
  • Where appropriate try and encourage your family member to reach out and obtain specialist help either from the forces they serve in or from other specialist agencies or charities.

I think the maintaining effective lines of communication is the most important factor when going through such hard times with your family, good communication is key but it’s so very hard at times.  Gentle persistence is often the best way.