There are a lot of things that military spouses go through that can make them feel pretty alone, especially some of the more hidden things like mental health challenges. It can be difficult to know how to respond to military spouse depression, but whatever you do, don’t minimize how you’re feeling.
Just because you’re not the one deployed or because other military spouses may have it harder doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to your feelings. They are valid, and you are not alone.
MilSpouse Depression Statistics
Understanding what the MilSpouse depression statistics are may help you feel to better about understand what you’re going through. Depression is a common illness that affects a substantial portion of the world’s population. It’s estimated that 3.8% of the population has experienced a serious depressive episode.
Members of the military and their families are not immune to this illness. Military wife depression is very common, so if you find yourself battling with military spouse depression, know you’re dealing with a real issue — one that should be taken seriously.
Deployment Depression Symptoms
Servicemembers can experience depression while they’re on deployment. After all, they’re away from the place their support systems live. But even if you aren’t the one who is serving away from home, you can still experience deployment depression symptoms as a MilSpouse. You may end up trying to push through a low mood or difficult day, beating yourself up for feeling anything but pride and gratitude.
Below are some of the most common symptoms of depression. Keep in mind that you should not attempt to diagnose or treat yourself for clinical or seasonal depression. If you suspect you have depression, seek help from a trusted professional and don’t feel like you need to handle the issue all on your own.
- Low energy.
- Feeling tired regardless of how much sleep you get.
- Oversleeping or undersleeping.
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.
- Loss of appetite.
- Increase of appetite, especially for “junk” foods.
- Increase in alcohol intake.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Weight gain or loss.
- Social withdrawal or low social battery.
- Increased irritability.
- Feelings of numbness, indifference, or hopelessness.
- Thoughts or actions of self-harm, including suicide.
You don’t need to have all of these symptoms to meet the criteria for depression. Military spouse depression presents itself differently and at different severities for unique individuals. One person may only experience social withdrawal and fatigue while another may barely be able to get out of bed. Both are battling depression and deserving of attention and care.
5 Military Wife and Husband Depression Solutions
Finding resources to help with depression can be challenging, especially as a military spouse. As hard as it can be to battle your emotions and get moving in the right direction again, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor if you can muster the will to do so. Here are 5 some solutions to help make your journey a little easier:
1. Take Advantage of Free Counseling
Speaking to a professional who understands and can offer insights and advice is life-changing. You don’t need to hit your version of rock-bottom to benefit from a visit with a counselor. Speaking with a counselor today can help improve your mental health faster and offer the support you need.
2. Go Outside Daily
Being outside is helpful for your mind, body, and emotions. Specifically, spend time being in the sun — that’s where you can get a much-needed dose of vitamin D which has positive mood-altering and physical effects.
Try to get at least 20 minutes of sunshine every day, even on cold or cloudy days. Go for a walk, play in the park with the kids, and make sure you’re getting plenty of fresh air.
3. Move Your Body
Physical activity is one of the best ways to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. In fact, exercising three times per week for an average of 45 minutes each time can significantly improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. You don’t necessarily need to have an intense workout routine or run five miles daily, but make sure to exercise your body regularly to help keep your mood lifted. As long as you’re breaking a sweat, your brain will release those helpful endorphins.
4. Nourish Your Body
While you can try medication, sometimes food is all the depression remedies you need. Your brain can only function as well as you fuel it. Focus on feeding your body good, nutrient-rich foods to give yourself the most support you possibly can. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying some comfort junk food every once in a while, create healthy food habits to support your brain long-term.
5. Talk with a Friend
Isolation is one of the ways depression keeps its foothold because it’s often the hardest to break out of. Start small by calling a friend or family member you love, even if you just listen to them talk or vent about the weather. You may have to force yourself at first, but it’s important to do everything you can to feel connected.
Life as a military spouse is certainly challenging, and depression doesn’t make things any easier. That doesn’t mean you can’t do an outstanding job. Be kind to yourself, take it a day at a time, and show grace when life just seems more difficult than normal.
Remember, you’re not alone. If you realize you’re struggling with depression more than normal, reach out for help and get the support you need.