Research from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America has found a number of factors that increase risk of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in military spouses.
This study used information gathered from the largest longitudinal study ever conducted to assess the impact of military service and several other data sources such as electronic personnel files.
"The goal of the present study was to identify demographic, military-specific, and service member mental health correlates of spousal depression," according to the authors of "Depression among military spouses: Demographic, military, and service member psychological health risk factors."
Military spouses, on average, deal with many unique situations such as geographic separation, unpredictable training cycles, frequent relocation, spouse deployments, and secondary effects of the lifestyle, such as frequent job rotations.
Though from the myriad factors related to military spouses, several were found to be strong indicators of increased risk for MDD.
According to the study, "less educational attainment, unemployment, and large family size were all independently associated with greater risk for MDD among military spouses."
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Bryan Nygaard)
While depression may be due to a complex set of issues and factors affecting the person, researchers were able to determine that these factors played a substantial role as independent factors.
Other family or individual elements that may increase risk are gender (female), being less than 30 years of age, combat deployments, PTSD, alcoholism, and the service member's branch.
This research provides information with real-world application for spouses to better understand the factors that may play a role in their depression.
Additionally, it provides leaders with important data on several subgroups that may be proactively identified for resourcing.
Below are resources that may help with any one of these factors contributing to depression:
- My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA): $4,000 of financial assistance for spouses pursuing a license, certification or associate degree.
- Pell Grant: Federal student aid that varies dependent on several factors.
- G.I. Bill: This military benefit can be transferred to eligible spouses or children.
- Grants and scholarships: Do some research, many states and private organizations offer grants, scholarships, or reduced tuition to military spouses.
- Priority Placement Program: Spouses receive preference over other job applicants seeking federal service (USAJobs).
- FMWR resources: Morale, Welfare and Recreation has services, personnel, and resources that are dedicated to helping spouses with career placement, including its Employment Readiness Program.
- Job placement: Check out local staffing agencies, job posting sites, and local unemployment offices.
- Military and Family Life Counseling: Counselors can help people who are having trouble coping with concerns and issues of daily life, the stress of the military lifestyle, parenting, etc.
- Family Advocacy Program: Dedicated to the prevention, education, prompt reporting, investigation, intervention, and treatment of spousal and child abuse and neglect.
- New Parent Support Program: Prenatal and postnatal education from baby massage groups to customized breastfeeding support and more.
- Army Family Team Building: Helps you to not just cope with, but enjoy the military lifestyle. AFTB provides the knowledge and self-confidence to take responsibility for yourself and your family.
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