University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
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KY Women's Health Registry

Military Families

Prevalence of Individuals Affected by Depression

In 2005, there were a reported 1,373,534 active duty military personnel. This number includes members from all four branches of Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marines. Including Reservists and the National Guard members in the demographics almost doubles the total military population. Retired veterans are rarely included in official military demographics, but they too have been exposed to the struggles of military life. For every past and present enlisted individual, there are dependent and extended family members, former spouses, step families, in laws, and close friends that are also directly affected by the military lifestyle. Within this population there is an increased risk of depression due to the unique experiences of the military way of life.

Due to stigma and secrecy within the military, the exact number of military service persons suffering from depression is unknown. However, it is reported that 3.7 percent of all military inpatient hospitalizations 11 percent of outpatient hospitalizations are a direct result of depression.

Characteristics that Contribute to Depression in the Military

Stressors such as training, separation, and deployment are a few of the characteristics that increase depression in military service members and their families. Also an increase in co-morbid diagnosis such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, substance abuse, and suicidal tendency increase the pressure of depression in the military.

Stigma of Depression in the Military Community

Members of the military are often stereotyped as indestructible warriors. Any sign of weakness, such as physical or mental hardships are frowned upon. Psychological side affects due to service enlistment is typically less acceptable than physical handicaps as a result of military service. For all of these reasons, service members can be hesitant to reach out for help even when their work and home life is affected. Family members of service men and women may also resist seeking help in an effort to be strong for the enlisted individual.

Blue to You

Blue to You was developed through the Health Education through Extension Leadership program made possible by Senator Mitch McConnell with funds earmarked for the University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Lexington, KY and budgeted through the CSREES/USDA Federal Administration.