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U.S. Service Members and Mental Health Disorders

Sept. 11, Afghanistan and Iraq wars, along with increased military outreach, linked to the rise

continued...

The implication, Russell said, is that today's service members are receiving more care for their mental health issues. But, he added, it's impossible to know, from medical records, whether troops were getting the appropriate amount of care.

Concern about U.S. service members' mental health has grown in recent years, due to a rising suicide rate. Since 2009, the annual suicide rate has hovered around 18 per 100,000 active-duty troops -- versus 10 to 11 per 100,000 in 2005, according to government research.

A 2013 study found that those suicides seem to be unrelated to combat experience overseas. Instead, service members with depression or drinking problems -- whether they'd been deployed overseas or not -- were at increased suicide risk.

According to Borenstein, active-duty troops and veterans need to keep hearing the message that treatment -- whether talk therapy or medication -- is available.

"If you're experiencing symptoms of depression or PTSD, seek help," Borenstein said. "Asking for help is a sign of strength."

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