Depression in the marine corps (5 coping tips)

In this blog we will discuss the topic of depression in the marine corps.

We will also briefly discuss if you will be kicked out of the marines if you have depression and what you can do to manage depression when you are in the military.

Depression in the marine corps

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Counseling is Key to a Healthy Marriage

The prevalence of depression in the marine corps has been reported to be more in percentage as compared to the general population. 

Infact, recent studies show that depression is reported much more amongst service men and women than amongst civilians. 

It is estimated that the depression rate is up to 14 percent in people who have developed or experienced depression after being deployed. 

While 14 percent is high in itself, many suspect that the number may be even higher because it is often the case that some service members don’t seek care for their condition due to stigma and the fear of being discharged. 

Along with depression, around 19 percent of service members also report other mental disorders as a result of psychological and physical trauma in the brain. 

In fact, many researchers believe that the stress of being present in a combat zone, trauma of war and death, as well as concussions due to brain injuries that damage the brain could be factors that lead to the development of depressive symptoms in this population.

It is not just the marines and the members who serve in the military, it is also the family of those who serve in the military that is also impacted. 

Nearly half of the Servicemen and women who have been deployed to the middle east during the 2000s have children and these children are very much impacted by the experience of having their parents deployed and the challenge of these adjustments can have a profound impact on a young child or teenager.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a leading publication used for diagnosis of mental disorders by mental health professionals, Major depressive disorder or depression is a serious mood disorder.

Depression is a  serious mood disorder where people affected by it experience persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. 

It is such a serious condition that it can also lead to errors in judgement and behavioural challenges that can render an individual unfit for working in the military and also can be a cause for concern as the person can be a harm to themselves and others as well. 

Apart from these emotional distress, people with depression can also experience physical symptoms such as chronic pain, or changes in their behaviour such as social withdrawal or slowed movements.

Common symptoms of depression include:

  • irritability
  • difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • fatigue or lack of energy
  • feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or self-hate
  • social isolation
  • a loss of interest in activities and hobbies
  • that used to be pleasurable
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • dramatic changes in appetite along with
  • corresponding weight gain or loss
  • suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Will I be kicked out if I have depression in the marine corps?

Yes, you can get discharged for Clinical depression or Major Depressive disorder.

In the military, serious mental health disorders such as major depression, anxiety or schizophrenia are grounds for medical discharge or early retirement.

The criteria for discharge usually depend on the severity of the disorder, the impact the disorder has on the safety of the person and others, and receptiveness to treatment.

The eligible Criteria for Disability Discharge and Retirement for mental disorders like depression in very broad terms, is when the disorder is severe enough to:

  • Interfere significantly with performance of duties
  • Require continued and intensive psychiatric support
  • Possibly and seriously endanger the servicemember’s as well as other servicemember’s health or well-being
  • Is against the best interests of the government. 

According to the National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force, the controlling regulation is DoD Instruction 1332.18.

This Instruction is set out in Enclosure 3, Appendix 2, and provides very general standards for determining whether a certain medical condition render a servicemember unfit for military service:

 The instruction is as follows:

A Service member will be considered unfit when the evidence establishes that the member, due to disability, is unable to reasonably perform duties of his or her office, grade, rank, or rating, including those during a remaining period of Reserve obligation. (TNLG LTF)

A Service member may also be considered unfit when there is evidence, usually from a physician or psychiatrist under whom they are cared for, establishes that:

  • The Service member’s diagnosis of depression is a medical risk for the health, welfare or safety of the military member as well as that of other members
  • The Service member’s diagnosis of depression requires unreasonable requirements on the military to protect and care for the Service member who is diagnosed.

What to do if you have depression in the marine corps?

If you have depression, here are a few things that one can do to seek help:

Reach out

Here are a few resources form the NHS that you can make use of if you are suicidal, depressed, or engageing in self harm. 

  • Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: [email protected] for a reply within 24 hours
  • Text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text “YM” if you’re under 19
  • If you’re under 19, you can also call 0800 1111 to talk to Childline. The number will not appear on your phone bill.
  • Self Injury Support webchat (for women and girls) is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 7pm to 9.30pm
  • CALM webchat (for men) is open from 5pm to midnight every day

You can also reach out to your local medical service providers or a mental health service provider. 

If you are hesitant about reaching out for help, speak to a trusted friend or adult about what you are going through.

Seek professional help

Seek out professional help when these thoughts don’t improve after a week or two even after you have tried to manage them alone. 

It is also imperative that you seek out help when the intensity of these thoughts and feelings disrupt your ability to function and meet the demands of your daily life. 

When loneliness turns to thoughts and feelings of hopelessness it can aggravate your suicidal ideation, this is a major symptom of depression. So seeking out professional help becomes necessary. 

Join a support group

Another thing you can do for yourself is to join a support group of people struggling with depression in the military so that you can experience emotional support first hand within these communities and over time learn how to manage your challenges by learning from each other. 

By joining a group that is open, empathetic, and growing towards healing, you and your experiences can be an excellent sense of support to someone else who is also in their early part of their journey. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed the topic of depression in the marine corps.

We have also briefly discussed if you will be kicked out of the marines if you have depression and what you can do to manage depression when you are in the military.

FAQ related to Depression in the Marine Corps

Can you be a Marine if you have depression?

Yes you can join the marines even if you have a history of depression however,  you should be stable, without treatment or symptoms for a continuous 36 months, to be eligible to enlist.

Aside from this, you should also be cleared by a military doctor during your assessment to be deemed eligible

Why is depression so common in the military?

Many researchers believe that the stress of being present in a combat zone, trauma of war and death, as well as concussions due to brain injuries that damage the brain could be factors that lead to the development of depressive symptoms in this population.

Can you join the Marines with a mental illness?

Yes you can join the marines even if you have a history of mental illnesses however,  you should be stable, without treatment or symptoms for a continuous 36 months, to be eligible to enlist.

Aside from this, you should also be cleared by a military doctor during your assessment to be deemed eligible. 

Can you be separated from the military for anxiety?

Yes, you can get discharged for Anxiety disorders

In the military, serious mental health disorders such as major depression, anxiety or schizophrenia are grounds for medical discharge or early retirement.

The criteria for discharge usually depend on the severity of the disorder, the impact the disorder has on the safety of the person and others, and receptiveness to treatment.

Does suicidal thoughts disqualify you from the military?

Yes, you can get discharged for having suicidal ideation and thoughts

In the military, serious mental health disorders that have sympotoms of suicidal ideation are grounds for medical discharge or early retirement.

The criteria for discharge usually depend on the severity of the disorder, the impact the disorder has on the safety of the person and others, and receptiveness to treatment.

Can you be bipolar in the military?

No, troops who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder are considered unfit to be in the military. 

In the military, serious mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder, major depression, anxiety or schizophrenia are grounds for medical discharge or early retirement.

The criteria for discharge usually depend on the severity of the disorder, the impact the disorder has on the safety of the person and others, and receptiveness to treatment.

References

Are You Experiencing Depression? 4 Symptoms You Should Know. Militaty.com. Retrieved on 20th April 2022. https://www.military.com/spouse/military-life/4-symptoms-of-depression.html

Michael Kerr. Depression and Military Families. Healthline. Retrieved on 20th April 2022. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/military-service

Substance Abuse in the U.S. Marines Corps. American Addiction Centres. Retrieved on 20th April 2022. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/veterans/substance-abuse-marines#:~:text=and%20legal%20issues.-,Co%2DOccurring%20Mental%20Health%20Issues%20in%20the%20U.S.%20Marine%20Corps,depression%20are%20common%20as%20well.&text=Some%20of%20the%20signs%20of%20PTSD%20include%3A&text=Flashbacks%20and%20nightmares%20related%20to,Avoiding%20reminders%20of%20the%20trauma.

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