Military Families and Depression

Brain Performance Technologies is a leader in Helping tackle Depression

Veterans and military families can suffer from depression alongside PTSD due to unique challenges like combat exposure, traumatic experiences, and transitioning to civilian life, often leading to feelings of grief and guilt. Symptoms of depression include persistent sadness, worthlessness, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities. With a suicide rate 1.5 times higher than civilian population, it’s crucial to offer treatments like therapy, medication, and innovative approaches such as Magnetic eResonance Therapy (MeRT) to support the community’s’ mental health and reduce suicide rates.

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There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.

Why does military life bring a struggle with depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that can trigger debilitating and wide-ranging symptoms. Veterans and military families are at high risk for depression due to the unique stressors of the military. Genetics, life experiences and the brain itself contribute to depression in the general population. Adding the loneliness of long family separation, guilt from long family absences, the details of combat – physical and emotional, just to name a few. And, life after the military can bring unique stressors over what comes next.

Is a depression diagnosis useful?

YES. The notion that there is nothing that can be done for depression and that suffering in silence is the only choice is simply not true.  Depression can be managed and, in some cases, can even go into remission.  Those that has been diagnosed with depression begin the process of healing.

Where to start?

Start with patient health questionnaire PHQ-9.  PHQ-9 is a multipurpose diagnostic screening consisting of 9 simple questions.  You can get it from your primary care physician or a mental health professional.  You can also find it online from the National Library of Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1495268/table/tbl6/?report=objectonly . That screening will begin a talk with your doctor or a mental health professional about treatments to help you manage depression.

Treatment options for depression

There are three main categories of treatment for depression.  It is important to note that they are NOT mutually exclusive, in fact, a combination of treatments often works best.

TherapyThe three most common forms are: “talk” therapy; cognitive behavioral therapy, which is geared towards changing habits and behavioral patterns; and group therapy designed to share experiences.  All can be done in person or via telemedicine.

MedicationMedications called antidepressants are often prescribed to relieve symptoms.  Efficacy of medication can vary, as can the timing of improvement in symptoms.  Antidepressants are best prescribed by a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner but can also be prescribed by a primary care physician.

Brain Stimulation – brain stimulation therapy uses electric or magnetic currents to treat the brain.  It can be highly effective in patients who have not responded well to other depression treatments.  Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS, further abbreviated to TMS) is the most widely used form of brain stimulation therapy.  It is safe, effective, non-invasive and drug free.

During TMS, an electromagnetic coil is placed on a person’s scalp.  During a treatment session, short magnetic pulses are painlessly directed into the area of the brain that controls moods.    Sessions are done is a series of 30 to 60 days, for a time of approximately 30 to 45 minutes each session.

Doctors overseeing a patient’s TMS treatment can personalize each patient’s level of magnetic energy delivered and scalp placement.  Sometimes doctors use electroencephalograms (EEGs) to determine a personalized treatment course and monitor patient progress throughout the treatment series.

There are few reported side effects of TMS, the most common reported side effect is a headache.  There is a minimal risk of seizure, but it is very rare.

A substantial and growing number of veterans have been utilizing TMS therapy to manage their depression, with great results.  There are several studies publishing results, the most relevant can be found on the website ClinicalTrials.gov, ID number NCT 0119133, title:  The Effectiveness of rTMS in Depressed VA Patients.

TMS and TriCare Insurance

TRICARE is a civilian network administered by the U.S Department of Defense that provides health care benefits to active-duty service members, National Guard and Reserve members, and their families.  When service members leave active duty, they are eligible for either VA benefits or TRICARE coverage, depending on how they separated from military duty.  TMS treatment is covered when administered by a Tricare authorized physician for those patients that have TriCare Prime, TriCare Reserve, and TriCare Select.

If you are not sure what type of plan you have, you can find information about plans, eligibility and coverage at https://www.tricare.mil/Plans/Eligibility/DEERS/milConnec

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PLEASE NOTE: Brain Performance Technologies only treats children who are three years and older.

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