Can you join the airforce with depression? (A descriptive answer)

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The article below answers the question “can you join the airforce with depression?”. We will also gather some useful insight about the symptoms of depression and anxiety. We will thereafter look at the other mood disorders and mental disorders which are considered a disqualifying criteria in the army.

Is it really possible to join the airforce with depression?

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No it is not. If you are having a mental disorder especially mood disorder or a history of having one, you are not eligible to join the airforce. In case of depressive disorders(major depression), the person is eligible only if they have not  needed any treatment in the past 36 months. 

Clinical symptoms of Depression and anxiety

The DSM-5 outlines the following criterion to make a diagnosis of depression. The individual must be experiencing five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.

  1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
  2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  3. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  4. A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  5. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  6. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  7. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
  8. Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

When assessing for GAD, clinical professionals are looking for the following:

  1. The presence of excessive anxiety and worry about a variety of topics, events, or activities. Worry occurs more often than not for at least 6 months and is clearly excessive.
  2. The worry is experienced as very challenging to control. The worry in both adults and children may easily shift from one topic to another.
  3. The anxiety and worry are accompanied with at least three of the following physical or cognitive symptoms (In children, only one of these symptoms is necessary for a diagnosis of GAD):
  • Edginess or restlessness
  • Tiring easily; more fatigued than usual
  • Impaired concentration or feeling as though the mind goes blank
  • Irritability (which may or may not be observable to others)
  • Increased muscle aches or soreness
  • Difficulty sleeping (due to trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, restlessness at night, or unsatisfying sleep)

How depression and anxiety can be harmful in airforce

Serving for the country needs a lot of mental strength more than physical strength. Depression and anxiety, if severe compels an individual to not do his or her daily activities. The individual can feel left out and become hopeless. They would need help either by medications or therapies. 

In the air force, people are trained to become extremely strong mentally which becomes impossible for people who do not even have mental disorders. For a person suffering from depression has to treat themselves before they can join the airforce otherwise the strict military practices can be harmful and detrimental to their health. 

Can you join the airforce with depression? (A descriptive answer)

What are the other mental conditions that would disqualify your entry in the airforce?

If you are currently suffering from mood disorder or having a history of any mental disorder, you won’t be allowed to join the army. The presence of any disorder with psychotic symptoms, such as schizophrenia or a delusional disorder, does not allow one to serve the army.

Other disqualifying mental health conditions include:

A history of obsessive-compulsive disorder

According to DSM-5 OCD is characterized by the presence of obsessions and/or compulsions.

 Presence of obsessions, compulsions, or both:

Obsessions are defined by (1) and (2):

  1. Recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and unwanted, and that in most individuals cause marked anxiety or distress.
  2. The individual attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, urges, or images, or to neutralize hem with some other thought or action (i.e., by performing a compulsion).

Compulsions are defined by (1) and (2):

  1. Repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (e.g., praying, counting, repeating words silently) that the individual feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to rules that must be applied rigidly.
  2. The behaviors or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing anxiety or distress, or preventing some dreaded event or situation; however, these behaviors or mental acts are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralize or prevent, or are clearly excessive.

A history of  post-traumatic stress disorder

DSM-5 criterias for PTSD:

Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence in one (or more) of the following ways:

  • Directly experiencing the traumatic event(s).
  • Witnessing, in person, the event(s) as it occurred to others.
  • Learning that the traumatic event(s) occurred to a close family member or close friend. In cases of actual or threatened death of a family member or friend, the event(s) must have been violent or accidental.

Presence of one (or more) of the following intrusion symptoms associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred:

  • Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event(s). Recurrent distressing dreams in which the content and/or affect of the dream are related to the traumatic event(s).

Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by one or both of the following:

  • Avoidance of or efforts to avoid distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s).
  • Avoidance of or efforts to avoid external reminders (people, places, conversations, activities, objects, situations) that arouse distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s).

History bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is characterized by up-and-down episodes of mania and depression.

Symptoms of the mania phase of bipolar disorder include: 

  • A high level of energy
  • Euphoria or severe irritability or anger
  • Exaggerated sense of well-being
  • Excitability
  • Extreme alertness
  • Extremely elevated mood
  • Extremely high levels of self-esteem and ambition
  • Impulsivity and erratic behavior
  • Insomnia
  • Psychosis (hallucinations, delusions)
  • Racing thoughts
  • Rapid talking
  • Risk taking, such as excessive sexual behaviors, gambling, and alcohol and drug use

Symptoms of the depression phase of bipolar disorder include:

  • Anger or irritability
  • Difficulties with memory or in making decisions
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
  • Persistent sadness and/or despair
  • Physical symptoms, such as headaches and body aches
  • Sleep abnormalities, such as insomnia or a desire to sleep all the time
  • Strong feeling of guilt, helplessness, hopelessness and/or worthlessness
  • Trouble focusing and concentrating

Presence of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder(ADHD)

ADHD is characterized by behaviors which can be divided in the following subgroups:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Emotional instability
  • Antisocial behaviour
  • Coordination difficulties
  • Inattention and impulsiveness.

The behaviours are seen in symptoms as following:

  • Fidgeting/doodling
  • Talking excessively and appearing not to listen
  • Getting easily bored
  • Being overexcited or hyper focused
  • Intolerance of others
  • Difficulty getting organised
  • Mood swings
  • Unfounded anxiety or oversensitivity
  • Feel angry or appalled if misunderstood
  • Difficulty following rules or regulations
  • Difficulty retaining information.

Other than these the following will also not let you get selected in the airforce:

  • A history of an adjustment disorder within the last six months, or recurrent episodes of adjustment disorder
  • A history of paraphilias like voyeurism or exhibitionism
  • A history of or current alcohol or drug abuse or dependence
  • A history of attempted suicide or suicidal behavior
  • if their personality, conduct, or behavior disorder is believed to be a serious incongruence while adjusting to the military lifestyle
  • may be a reason for disqualification if one has received treatment with the last two years

Conclusion 

From the article above we answered the question “ can you join the airforce with depression”. We also learnt about depression and anxiety and how harmful it is to join the airforce with depression. We further looked at other disorders such as ADHD, bipolar, if present, will get you disqualified. 

Faqs : Can you join the airforce with depression? 

Can you join the AirForce with depression?

No it is not. If you are having a mental disorder especially mood disorder or a history of having one, you are not eligible to join the airforce. In case of depressive disorders(major depression), the person is eligible only if they have not  needed any treatment in the past 36 months. 

What branch of the military is the Air Force?

Air Service Branch

The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air service branch of the United States Armed Forces.

Does the military include the Air Force?

Yes. Usually the Air Force is considered in the military. For example, the U.S. Armed Forces are made up of the six military branches: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy and, most recently, Space Force.

Which is the hardest military branch?

The Air Force is the hardest military branch. 

Can you join the military if you’re on antidepressants?

 If you are having a mental disorder especially mood disorder or a history of having one, you are not eligible to join the airforce. In case of depressive disorders(major depression), the person is eligible only if they have not  needed any treatment in the past 36 months. 

What prevents you from joining the military?

There are age, citizenship, physical, education, height/weight, criminal record, medical, and drug history standards that can exclude you from joining the military.

Can you have tattoos in the military?

According to the Army Tattoo Policy, essentially, any visible body tattoos are prohibited.

Do females have to cut their hair in the army?

Except for the Navy, women do not have to get their hair cut

What haircut does the military use?

The high and tight is a military variant of the crew cut.

References : https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm

https://www.verywellmind.com/mental-illnesses-serve-us-military-3973352

https://academic.oup.com/milmed/article-pdf/168/11/904/24218056/milmed-168-11-904.pdf

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