For many servicemen and women, not all wounds are visible. After returning home from combat, veterans often find themselves struggling with their own internal battle with mental health. They relive the trauma long after their service is completed. Whether seeking care for suicidal thoughts, substance abuse disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety or even traumatic brain injury, our veterans deserve the very best care. When it comes to mental health treatment for veterans, there are many highly effective options available.
Research has shown that the prevalence of mental illness is higher in veterans than civilians. Mental health conditions experienced by veterans have no one cause, but instead are a result of many risk factors including:
- Experiencing or witnessing traumatic events, such as death, serious accidents, sexual assault, or other violence
- Learning that a loved one experienced a traumatic event
- Repeated exposure to a traumatic event
Common Types of Mental Health Conditions in Veterans
While military life can be rewarding, the adjustment back to civilian life can be difficult. Experiencing traumatic events during deployment can cause mental health issues that can manifest in several ways. Oftentimes, veterans struggle with co-occurring disorders which can include any combination of the following:
The most common mental health disorder among veterans is post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. PTSD starts after exposure to an actual or threatened traumatic event. Military personnel serving in combat areas are exposed to life-threatening situations daily. Someone living with PTSD may experience sleep disturbances, avoidance, isolation; changes in behavior or mood; recurrent and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event or events.
It is estimated about 11% of veterans struggle with major depressive disorder. Depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and/or loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. Depression is a real, highly treatable medical condition. Typically, medication and talk therapy are first line treatments. If conventional treatments cause unwanted side effects or lingering symptoms, then there are several effective alternative treatments, like TMS, that can help. The goal of depression treatment should be full remission.
There are different types of anxiety disorders that veterans may experience including: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and phobias. Generalized anxiety disorder is prevalent among veterans struggling to adjust to civilian life. Symptoms of an anxiety disorder can include but are not limited to:
- Feeling restless, jumpy, or on edge
- Excessive worrying
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feeling dizzy, nauseous, or lightheaded
- A racing heart or cold, clammy hands
Mental Health Treatment for Veterans
Veterans can often benefit from different types of mental health services like trauma-focused therapies. Cognitive processing therapy (CPT), prolonged exposure (PE) therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) are three different types of psychotherapies that are most effective for trauma. Antidepressants can also be life-changing when indicated and prescribed by a licensed clinician. However, medications don’t work for everyone. For those who have tried both talk therapy and medication but still haven’t experienced adequate results, TMS therapy could be the next step.
What is TMS?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, is an FDA-approved treatment for depression. TMS is an outpatient treatment that does not require sedation or surgery and is drug-free.
TMS is like physical therapy for the brain. It uses magnetic pulses to stimulate specific areas of the brain responsible for mood. During treatment, patients recline in a treatment chair and remain awake and alert. The TMS magnet is positioned over the head to target specific areas of the brain responsible for mood.
TMS is an effective mental health treatment for veterans. In addition to depression, it is also used to treat symptoms from several conditions including:
Benefits of TMS Therapy
There are several benefits that make TMS an ideal treatment option for veterans or anyone struggling with their mental health. TMS therapy has a considerably higher success rate than other treatments. Most patients will notice improvement after 2 weeks of treatment compared to the 6-12 week onset period of conventional medications. And unlike medication, TMS is non-systemic meaning it does not affect the whole body. And because it does not affect the whole body, this allows for less side effects. In fact, there are minimal to no side effects with TMS. Patients sometimes experience mild scalp discomfort or mild headache during active treatment, otherwise there are no side effects.
TMS also has quick treatment times. Each session is about 20 minutes long during which patients can relax, read, work or watch television. And since it is non-invasive and does not require any sedation, there is zero downtime. Patients can drive themselves to and from treatment and resume to normal daily activities immediately after.
Does TRICARE Cover TMS?
Yes, TMS for depression is FDA-cleared and covered by Tricare as well as Aetna, Anthem, Blue Shield, Optum, MHN/Healthnet, Cigna, Magellan and Beacon and more.
To learn more about TMS therapy, or to schedule a consultation, contact us with our online form or give us a call at (877) 847-3984.