Treating Depression and Addiction in Veterans
Depression is a serious but common mental health issue that affects more than 21 million American adults each year. Veterans are particularly prone to depression due to the wounds of war that haunt them after returning home and the challenges associated with reintegration into civilian life.
Although up to 1 in 5 veterans experience depression, there are effective treatment options available. At Alamo Behavioral Health, our veteran’s rehab center utilizes a holistic approach, addressing the unique needs of veterans and giving them the strength to move forward.
Depression Among Veterans: Understanding the Issue
It’s no secret that veterans frequently struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Depending on the study, it is estimated that between 7-30% of veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD. When it comes to chronic pain and TBIs, 1 in 3 veterans have been diagnosed with a condition related to chronic pain, and between 9% and 28% have experienced a TBI.
PTSD can lead to a variety of mentally and emotionally painful symptoms. In some people, it makes them feel numb and irritable or even depressed. Depression is also common after TBI and when dealing with depression.
Additionally, returning home from combat and reintegrating into civilian life presents an array of challenges, sometimes resulting in stress, avoidance, isolation, and depression. To cope with these symptoms, some veterans turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism, and substance abuse can exacerbate or cause depression in veterans.
When Depression and Addiction Collide
Depression often fuels substance abuse as individuals seek solace or relief from profound emotional pain. On the other hand, substance abuse can worsen depressive symptoms, leading to a damaging cycle of substance abuse, addiction, and worsening depression.
When a veteran struggles with depression and addiction at the same time, they must get treatment that addresses both disorders. Integrated treatment methods focusing on both depression and addiction can help veterans navigate these complex struggles.
Suicide in Veterans
Veterans struggling with both depression and substance abuse face heightened risks of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Feelings of desolation, isolation, and anguish stemming from untreated mental health conditions can lead to overwhelming desperation.
Suicide is an epidemic among veterans, and studies suggest more than 20 veterans die from suicide each day. Seeking treatment for depression is a matter of life or death, and it’s important to get help as soon as someone starts displaying signs.
Treatment Services for Depression and Addiction In Veterans
A dual diagnosis treatment center for veterans is best suited to address co-occurring conditions like depression and addiction. Successful treatment requires an integrated, individualized approach, and typically involves:
When treatment begins, the clinical team will conduct a thorough assessment of the veteran’s mental health history, substance abuse patterns, combat experiences, and other factors. This information is used to create a personalized care plan. Some veterans might respond better to certain therapies or medications, while others might benefit from alternative approaches. Tailoring depression and addiction treatment based on each veteran’s responses can improve their ability to recover.
Also known as talk therapy or behavioral therapy, psychotherapy is a form of counseling that can be used to treat a range of mental and behavioral health conditions, including depression and anxiety. Therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and trauma-focused therapy help veterans address both depression and addiction by targeting the underlying causes and teaching healthy coping skills to manage triggers and cravings.
Medication can be extremely helpful when dealing with depression as well as other issues veterans face, such as anxiety or panic attacks. Antidepressant medications are commonly prescribed to treat depression and anxiety in veterans. In cases where veterans struggle with opioid addiction and/or chronic pain, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with Suboxone or similar medications may be used.
Complementary and alternative therapies, such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, and equine-assisted therapy, have shown effectiveness in alleviating symptoms of depression and aiding in addiction recovery. These holistic approaches offer alternative outlets for expressing painful emotions and reducing stress.
Find Treatment for Depression and Addiction for Veterans Today
Veterans require specialized treatment to address the complex physical, emotional, and behavioral aspects of their substance use. At Alamo Behavioral Health, our comprehensive programs are tailored to support the unique needs of veterans, providing them with a compassionate and evidence-based approach to recovery. Reach out to the Alamo Behavioral Health specialists now to learn about our effective depression and addiction treatment programs for veterans in Texas or to schedule an intake assessment.
- National Library of Medicine: PTSD Treatment for Veterans: What’s Working, What’s New, and What’s Next, Retrieved December 2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5047000/
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: PTSD: National Center for PTSD, Retrieved December 2023 from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_veterans.asp
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: PTSD: Trends in Veterans Reporting Chronic Pain from 2008 to 2016: A National VA Study, Retrieved December 2023 from https://www.hsrd.research.va.gov/for_researchers/cyber_seminars/archives/2351-notes.pdf
- JAMA Network: Traumatic Brain Injury and Veteran Mortality After the War in Afghanistan, Retrieved December 2023 from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2788981