What does it feel like for a
Soldier to return home from a war zone? For some Soldiers the
adjustment is fairly easy, but for others returning to a "normal
life" can be a struggle. Some returning Soldiers may complain
of having nightmares, difficulty sleeping, an increase in
irritation or aggression, or perhaps a feeling of being constantly
on alert. Other Soldiers may have unexplained aches and pains,
a loss of interest i n activities, or a feeling of being drained or
What Does It Mean?
If you or a Soldier you care
about is experiencing some of these symptoms, the Soldier may be
experiencing depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Depression is not the normal ups
and downs of life. It's an ongoing down mood along with other
factors that persists for several weeks or longer. A mix of
biological and emotional factors may cause depression. It can
affect the total person. In addition to feelings, it can
change thoughts, appearance, behavior, and even a Soldier's physical
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that
can occur after exposure to one or more terrifying events in which
grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. It is a severe
and ongoing emotion reaction that can interrupt a Soldier's daily
life, straining relationships and making it more difficult to focus
It's Not Unusual
Nearly 20 percent of American
Soldiers returning from active deployment screen positive for a
major behavioral disorder. Of these, 78 percent say they need
help, yet only one in four seeks behavioral health specialty care,
according to Department of Defense sponsored research. Some
Soldiers may be worried about how treatment will affect their
chances of deployment. Or they may feel like getting help is a
sign of weakness.
The good news for those who are
diagnosed with depression and/or PTSD is that both can be treated
with a high rate of success.
Systems of Primary Care Treatment in the Military).
RESPECT-Mil is a treatment model
designed by the United States Department of Defense's Deployment
Health Clinical Center (DHCC) to screen, assess, and treat active
duty Soldiers with depression and/or PTSD. This program is
modeled after a program that's proven effective in treating civilian
patients with depression.
The RESPECT-Mil program is also
proving to have a significant positive impact on Soldiers with
depression and/or PTSD. In a 2006 trial run for RESPECT-Mil at
Fort Bragg, more than 4,000 Soldiers were screened for depression
and PTSD and about 10 percent screened positive for depression, PTSD,
or both. Of those Soldiers engaging in the RESPECT-Mil
program, about 70 percent of those with moderate to severe
depression had their symptoms improve in 12 weeks or more; and about
90 percent of those with PTSD experienced similar improvement during
the same amount of time.
Screening, Diagnosis and
All Soldiers are encouraged to
complete a short, simple RESPECT-Mil screening questionnaire when
visiting a primary care clinic. If they screen positive, they
are asked to fill out an additional questionnaire or two which ask
basic questions about their energy level, ability to sleep, and
appetite, to name a few. Based on their responses, primary
care clinicians specifically trained to screen for and communicate
with Soldiers about depression and PTSD, will first evaluate, and
then develop, a treatment plan for each Soldier if needed.
A Soldier's treatment may include
prescription medications, counseling, or both. Once a
treatment plan is devised, a RESPECT-Mil Care Facilitator will
monitor the Soldier's progress through periodic phone contact.
The Care Facilitator will convey Soldier health updates to primary
care providers and mental health supervisors.
The Facts: Fitness and
A diagnosis and treatment of
depression or PTSD does not automatically prevent deployment
Medications can be and are
used during deployment
Participation in the
RESPECT-Mil program does not start the Chapter Discharge or
Medical Board Process
Untreated depression and PTSD
are likely to get worse and lead to a fitness problem
For more information about
depression or PTSD, we encourage you or someone you care about to
contact the RESPECT-Mil Care Facilitators listed at the top of this
page. You can also visit
http://www.pdhealth.mil/respect-mil/index.asp for additional
information and resources.