For additional information or to get help, contact the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1) or visit:

Service members and their families experience unique emotional challenges. Deployment and redeployment, single parenting and long absences from loved ones are a stressful part of military life. At times, these events can lead to sadness, feelings of hopelessness and withdrawal from friends, families and colleagues. Parenting can feel more of a burden than a joy. We may feel irritable and even be neglectful of our children’s needs. When these feelings and behaviors appear, depression may be present. Seeking care for depression, for ourselves or loved ones takes energy and courage.

Symptoms of Depression

Symptoms of depression may include:

  • Persistent sadness or anxiety – may include feelings of irritability, panic or restlessness and episodes of crying or tearfulness.
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, or helplessness – may include feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt.
  • Not wanting to leave the house – may include withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in life – may include a loss of interest in sex or other activities that were once pleasurable.
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns – may include difficulty falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much. It can also cause sudden weight loss or gain.
  • Decreased energy – may include a lack of motivation.
  • Difficulty concentrating – may include memory loss and difficulty making decisions.
  • Persistent physical symptoms – may include headaches, digestive disorders or back pain.
  • Alcohol or substance abuse –may include a significant increase in the amount of alcohol you consume on a regular basis.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide – contact a health care professional immediately if there are thoughts or talk of suicide. You can also contact the Military Crisis Line  at 1-800-273-8255.

Use these signs and symptoms as you inventory your potential for depression. Share these feelings with your primary care manager, nurse case manager or social worker, so they can provide you with the best healing experience.

Helpful Tips for Managing Depression

The following health tips are important for managing mild depression and for optimizing your mental health:

  • Manage your diet
  • Get adequate rest
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Participate in regular exercise
  • Surround yourself with people who are important to you
  • Communicate your feelings to someone you trust
  • Join a social support group in your military community or in your local area

If you believe you are suffering from severe depression and are having thoughts of death or suicide, contact a health care professional immediately. You can also talk to someone or get help through the Military Crisis Line  at 1-800-273-8255.

Additional Resources

For additional information on depression, please refer to:

Frequently Asked Questions

Is depression treatable?
I was diagnosed with major depression. What does that mean?
Is it normal to feel depressed around the holidays?

Is depression treatable?

Yes, the majority of people who are treated for depression will improve, even those with serious depression. Unfortunately, one-third of sufferers do not seek help, as they do not realize depression is a treatable illness.

I was diagnosed with major depression. What does that mean?

Major depression or major depressive disorder is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. Some people may experience only a single episode within their lifetime, but more often a person may have multiple episodes. Depression is a common but serious illness and most need treatment to get better.

Is it normal to feel depressed around the holidays?

Feeling down during or after the holiday season is not uncommon. Preparing for the holidays, the increased expectations of family and friends, the sadness of not having a loved one present, or having to say good-bye after a holiday reunion can contribute to a person feeling down. However, if these symptoms persist or if you suspect it might be more serious, contact someone for help.

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