Being a military spouse poses unique challenges. While there are several reasons to cherish and appreciate the life of a military partner, there are also significant difficulties. When the subject of mental health and well-being comes up in conversation, it’s natural to focus on members of the military forces, but what about the people around them? Being in a relationship with a serving member of the military or a veteran can be incredibly challenging. In this guide, we’ll discuss mental health and common struggles among military spouses and provide advice to help partners put themselves first.
Military Spouse Appreciation Day is a day dedicated to the partners and spouses of members of the military. Established in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan, this special day is celebrated on the Friday before Mother’s Day. It is an opportunity to recognize and acknowledge the critical role military spouses play in supporting their partners and forming cohesive, strong military communities.
Relationships can be complex and difficult, but for military spouses, there are unique challenges that can test even the strongest partnerships, making it problematic to cope with the demands of life within the military sphere.
Mental health disorders are more common among serving personnel, military veterans and military spouses. Statistics from the USO (United Service Organizations) and the Department of Defense (DoD) suggest that military spouses are more likely to experience stress, anxiety and depression. They are also prone to feeling lonely and isolated. According to a study by Combat Stress, a charity based in the UK, 37% of military partners experience anxiety, 39% have depression, 45% consume too much alcohol and 17% have PTSD.
In addition to their own mental health disorders and symptoms, military spouses often have to act as a support system for their partners. Research conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) revealed that more than 10% of veterans struggle with substance abuse.
Stress is prevalent among military spouses. Levels of stress are higher in the military community than in the general population. There are multiple causes of elevated levels of stress, including:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often linked to serving members of the military and veterans but it is also more common among military spouses. Many men and women who are married or in long-term relationships with members of the military have to endure extremely challenging periods. They may not be able to communicate with their partners for extended periods while away on operations or they may experience intense fear or anxiety caused by a lack of information or news headlines and graphic images in newspapers. Severe fear and crippling anxiety can take their toll on mental and physical health, resulting in symptoms of PTSD, such as:
Anxiety is much more common in the military community than in the general population. Active members and veterans often experience anxiety linked to fear of combat and injuries while military spouses face obstacles, including a lack of certainty about the future and the constant worry of losing a loved one or a spouse sustaining severe or life-changing injuries or mental health disorders.
There is a risk that spouses may return with physical injuries or psychological wounds, which could change the relationship. Military spouses may experience increased anxiety about providing a stable future for their children, including protecting them from the stresses and strains of conflict. The nature of being in the military and the lack of stability and control that comes with it can also make it difficult to plan, which can contribute to anxiety.
Being a military spouse can be an intensely lonely and isolating experience. While many people are fortunate to spend every evening or weekend with their husband or wife, military spouses can go weeks or months without seeing their partner. They may not even be able to speak to them. As well as living without their spouses at home for periods of time, the upheaval of military life and moving around frequently can also make it difficult for some people to maintain contact with friends or form strong, long-lasting relationships. There’s also a feeling among military spouses that other people find it difficult to understand the unique challenges that come with being in a relationship with a serving member of the military.
Military spouses are more susceptible to mental health disorders, but many may be reluctant to seek help, advice and support. It can sometimes be difficult to recognize the symptoms of mental health conditions, and there is still a stigma attached to mental illness
The important thing to remember if you are a military spouse experiencing symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression or PTSD, or you feel alone, low or isolated, is that there is support available. You don’t have to struggle on your own or sacrifice your mental health and well-being to support your partner or spouse.
At Jackson House Rehab, we provide specially designed programs for men and women in the military and their spouses and families. Our experienced team understands the unique challenges military spouses face. Jackson House specialists utilize proven techniques, therapies and treatments to create personalized plans, which target symptoms and provide unwavering support. For more information, visit https://www.jacksonhouserehab.com/treatment/military-program/.
Military spouses play a vital role in providing support for their partners, but often, they face challenges and struggles of their own. Studies show that anxiety, depression, stress, loneliness and PTSD are more common among military spouses, yet many people feel alone and unable to reach out for help.
It is crucial for military spouses to put themselves first and understand that help and support are available. Contact Jackson House for more information about dedicated military mental health programs.