Families of military personnel face a variety of challenges – from frequently shifting to constant stress to separation – caused by deployment.
A new study published in the journal European Journal of Psychotraumatology has found that depression and binge drinking are quite common in female partners of military personnel in the United Kingdom.
The study conducted by the researchers from the King’s Centre for Military Health Research at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience examined more than 400 women belonging to the military community.
The investigators analyzed the women using a screening tool for depression instead of a diagnosis from a psychiatrist, with women who reported frequent symptoms were expected to have probable depression. The researchers also recorded their drinking behaviors with the screening tool.
They found that 7 percent of female partners of military personnel met criteria for probable depression when compared to 3 percent of women who did not belong to military families.
They also found that nearly 10 percent of female partners of military personnel reported daily binge drinking when compared to 9 percent of women with no military families. Binge drinking was substantially higher among those who were separated from their partners due to deployment.
Lead study author Dr. Rachael Gribble said, “While the majority of families cope well with the added pressures of military life, the additional challenges faced by military families may explain the additional mental health needs and higher rates of binge-drinking we found among military partners.”
“More research is needed to help find out more about what contributes to depression and problematic drinking in this population,” added Dr. Gribble.
The researchers have urged the government to develop campaigns to limit alcohol use among the military community. Senior study author Prof. Nicola Fear said, “Our results indicate that healthcare professionals should be attuned to the impact military life can have on the mental health and wellbeing of family members. There are lots of support options available for military families out there, but these are not always easily accessible.”