Depression is one of the world’s top public health problems, affecting over 300 million people globally. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) has been identified as one of the most burdensome mental health disorders in the U.S. due to its high prevalence and impact on functioning. Estimates of U.S. lifetime prevalence rates for depression range from 4-12% for men and 15-25% for women.
While depression may not be commonly associated with traumatic experiences such as combat, rates of depression in our servicemen and women are not insignificant. Depressive disorders accounted for 17% of all mental health disorder diagnoses between 2000-2011. Certain subsets of the Active Duty population were more susceptible to developing symptoms of depression (e.g. females, younger Service members and those with lower rank). Deployment with combat exposure can also lead to an increased chance of new onset depression. Of those who have deployed as part of the Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom conflicts, an estimated 13-15% have reported symptoms of depression. Such symptoms can lead to impairment in occupational and social functioning, posing substantial concern for our Service members and the military mission. Veterans, similarly, show high rates of MDD, with lifetime prevalence rates two to three times higher than the general population.
Typically, there is not a single event or factor that is the cause for someone’s depression. Instead, a variety of interactive variables contribute to the development and maintenance of depression, including physiological, psychological, and environmental factors. In addition, Service members may face unique challenges that contribute to depression (e.g. deployment, long duty hours, relationship stress due to military factors, frequent relocation, etc.). Military cultural factors may also influence the manifestation of depressive symptoms, making it less evident that a Service member or Veteran is experiencing depressive symptoms. As part of their training, military members may learn to hide their true emotions, even in a therapy session. It may take longer for a Service member to openly disclose their symptoms and the severity of these concerns. In fact, some Service members wait so long to seek help that their depression becomes more severe.
With these statistics on depression in our military, it is fortunate that we have evidence-based psychotherapies to reduce, and at times resolve, symptoms of depression. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Depression (CBT-D) is a first-line intervention for depression recommended by the VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of MDD (2016). CBT-D is a structured, time-limited, present-focused approach that helps patients develop strategies to modify unhelpful thoughts and behaviors in order to assist them in resolving current problems and managing their mood.
For a brief description of CBT-D, click here or on the "Depression Treatments" button on the right side of this page. Additionally, CDP offers two-day training workshops in CBT-D using both in person and live online formats. Click here or on the Upcoming Training Events button on this page to view training opportunities and to learn how to how to register for a training event.