Mental Health Problems Veterans Should All Know About

Apr 11, 2024
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Serving in the military is a true honor, but it also comes with physical and mental scars that impact mental health. Read on to learn more about the mental health issues that plague veterans and how to spot the signs of trouble.

Mental health problems affect millions of people but are especially prevalent in those who've served in the military. Veterans who experience traumatic events often relive the experience of war over and over again, which leads to mental health issues.

Every veteran should know the signs and symptoms of mental health issues to identify when they, or someone they love, need assistance. Accepting help isn't always easy, but it could save your life.

At Pacific Phoenix TMS, Dr. Elia R. Gonzalez-Rodriguez is an experienced psychiatrist specializing in veteran services and mental health issues. Dr. Gonzalez-Rodriguez offers a variety of treatments, including groundbreaking transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS.

Mental health problems in veterans

Members of the military see things most of us can't fathom: war, gunfights, and being away from their families, all of which take a toll on their mental health. Many veterans come home changed, dealing with mental health issues from their time overseas.

Veterans suffer from many different mental health disorders, but the most prevalent ones we encounter include:


Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health problem that happens after being involved in or witnessing a severely traumatic event. Veterans often have PTSD related to bombings, gunfights, or seeing the death of comrades.

PTSD often involves flashbacks to the trauma, avoidance of anything that may trigger a flashback, and changes in mood or anxiety and fear.


Major depressive disorder is also common in veterans, especially after being wounded or experiencing the loss of friends or someone close to them on the battlefield.

Depression causes long-lasting feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and despair and may lead to thoughts or attempts at suicide. Veteran suicide rates are high at 6,000 veteran suicides per year according to the National Library of Medicine.

Traumatic brain injury

A traumatic brain injury occurs when something strikes the head and causes long-term issues with memory or cognition. Even with helmets, military personnel are at a high risk for TBI from explosives and hand-to-hand combat.

A TBI can lead to chronic headaches, mood swings and changes, cognitive disabilities, and extreme fatigue.

Substance abuse disorder

Instead of reaching out for help, many veterans turn to substances to ease the symptoms of mental health problems. They may pick up smoking, heavy drinking, or using illicit substances to numb their minds and cope with the trauma they've seen.

However, substance abuse often leads to worsening issues both mentally and physically. It may cause problems with interpersonal relationships and issues at work.

Spotting mental health issues

If you're a veteran or someone you love has served, it's essential to know what signs to look for with mental health issues. Spotting depression, PTSD, substance abuse, or a TBI early on may be the only thing that saves their life.

The symptoms of each mental health issue vary, but the common signs to look for when a veteran is struggling include:

  • Neglecting work, school, or personal hygiene
  • Appearing sad or down most of the time
  • Having fits of extreme anger or rage
  • Expressing the feeling that there's no need to live
  • Engaging in risky behaviors despite knowing the risk
  • Expressing feelings of guilt, failure, or shame
  • Loss of interest in things you love
  • Slowly pulling away from friends or family
  • Using alcohol, drugs, or smoking more than usual

The sooner you spot the symptoms and seek help, the better off you'll be. Mental health services are widely available to veterans, active military members, and their families.

Where can I seek treatment?

If you or someone you love is struggling as a veteran with mental health concerns, there are various avenues to call and talk to someone. Our team always accepts veterans and anyone dealing with mental health problems.

We're also happy to accept Tricare insurance, which is available to veterans, active military personnel, and their families. This insurance allows them easy access to our care and treatments.

The Veterans Crisis Line is also available through the Department of Veterans Affairs and SAMHSA by dialing 988 and then 1. It's the nation's first three-digit crisis line for military members, veterans, and their families.

Dr. Gonzalez-Rodriguez also provides you with other outlets and resources to get the help you need. She provides quick and efficient treatments and collaborates with other physicians and treatment centers to give you the best possible treatment for a positive outcome.

We offer transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS therapy for veterans living with PTSD that overlaps with depression. TMS is a promising noninvasive treatment for PTSD when other therapies haven’t worked – but we also use it in conjunction with other therapies for optimal results.

For veterans dealing with suicidal thoughts or depression, she also offers ketamine therapy and Spravato™ for immediate symptom relief.

If you or someone you love is struggling as a veteran, don't hesitate to call one of our conveniently located offices in Salmon Creek or East Vancouver, Washington, today to schedule an appointment or request an appointment on our website.