Report Examines Depression among Veterans Ages 21-39

This month's issue of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health Report examines data from veterans ages 21 to 39, an age group that includes veterans with relatively recent service. Research indicates that an estimated 25 to 30 percent of the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have reported symptoms of a mental disorder or cognitive condition. The report notes that untreated mental health problems can result in long-term negative consequences for the affected individuals, their families, their communities, and the country as a whole.

An estimated 9.3 percent of veterans ages 21 to 39 (312,000 individuals) experienced at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year, the report says. Among veterans ages 21 to 39 with past-year MDE, more than half (51.7 percent) reported severe impairment in at least one of four areas--home management, work, close relationships with others, and social life--and nearly one quarter (23.5 percent) reported very severe impairment in at least one of the areas. According to the report, more than half (59.6 percent) of veterans ages 21 to 39 who experienced past-year MDE received treatment for depression in the past year.

Female veterans were twice as likely as their male counterparts to have experienced past-year MDE (16.6 vs. 8.0 percent). Rates for past-year MDE were similar among black, white, and Hispanic veterans ages 21 to 39 (9.6, 9.2, and 8.5 percent, respectively).

Severe or very severe impairment in role functioning was reported by 55.4 percent of these veterans for home management, 41.3 percent for ability to work, 50.4 percent for close relationships with others, and 57.7 percent for social life.

Among those who received treatment for depression, 74.0 percent saw or talked to a medical doctor or other health professional about depression and used prescription medication for depression, 20.9 percent saw or talked to a medical doctor or other health professional about depression but did not use a prescription medication for depression, and 5.1 percent used prescription medication for depression but did not see or talk with a medical doctor or other professional about depression in the past year.

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