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Myth Busters

Myth Busters

MYTH: You can only get mental illness if you have been in active combat.

FACT: To the contrary, as there are many traumatic experiences which soldiers, sailors and airmen alike, witness during their military service that may take place outside of active combat situations. Whether it is during training or other activities in war zones, these traumatic experiences can stay with servicemen and women and lead to mental ill-health in later life.

MYTH: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the only mental illness caused by military service.

FACT: PTSD is by far the most common mental illness most associated with military service but that’s not to say this is the only mental illness suffered by ex-servicemen and women. Some ex-servicemen and women have reported suffering from depression, anxiety, panic attacks and substance abuse.

MYTH: You cannot cure PTSD.

FACT: This is a misguided viewpoint shared by numerous members of the public. In fact, if PTSD is diagnosed early and the patient receives the right treatment in the right environment, rates of recovery are very positive. Do note that if PTSD has been left untreated for a number of years, the patient will require more intensive treatment but there are still positive health outcomes for patients, with the potential for a life beyond symptoms. 

Many Veterans generally become symptom free for long periods of time and live normal fulfilling lives where they are able to work with the condition. There is however, a high risk of delayed-onset of PTSD and this is where symptoms do not occur for years, even decades after the traumatic event. Often those Veterans exposed to the effects of multiple traumas over a longer period of time present with delayed on-set PTSD. This suggests that those who serve multiple tours are more at risk of developing PTSD several years after leaving the Military. 

MYTH: Senior ranking officers don’t suffer from mental illness, only junior ranking officers.

FACT: This is definitely incorrect! No matter your rank, any Armed Forces serviceman or woman can suffer from mental illness as a result of the traumatic experiences endured during their time in service. Many Veterans from Privates up to Brigadiers have reported suffering mental ill-health upon returning home and even whilst in service.

MYTH: UK Armed Forces personnel who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have always returned with psychological injuries.

FACT: Studies have shown that a majority of Armed Forces personnel deployed actually do not experience lasting mental wounds as a result of their service. However, around 1 in 25 Regulars and 1 in 20 Reservists will report symptoms of PTSD following deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan. This is very similar to the rate in the general population. That is, 1 in 5 Veterans are likely to suffer from a common mental illness - such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks or substance misuse - which has been caused or aggravated by their Armed Forces experiences.

MYTH: There is a raising increase of Veterans' mental health problems building up.

FACT: Indeed, there has been an increase in the number of Veteran mental health rehabilitation referrals year on year but recent studies suggest this is due to an increased awareness of the symptoms and where to seek help.