20 November 2018

Military-related conditions to look out for

Both mental and physical health is at risk for forces and ex-forces personnel, from training to deployment through to post-military life.

Adjustment disorders are common but debilitating and can make it difficult to cope. Psychological conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often instigate unhealthy coping strategies resulting in a viscous cycle. Know how to identify the triggers and when to get help:


Insomnia or difficulty sleeping is considered one of the hyperarousal symptoms of PTSD. Studies have found that more than 50% of veterans experience sleeping problems. Difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep may be a result of:

  • Vivid nightmares and flashbacks

  • Feeling on edge and easily startled

  • Fear of going to sleep

Insomniacs may become vocal during sleep and though completely unconscious, can act out nightmares which puts partners at risk of violence. This can lead to social withdrawal and low mood.


Depression is the predominant mental health problem worldwide and can happen to anyone, but stressful situations and traumatic events occurring in military life are closely associated. Depression may include symptoms of:

  • Loss of interest and motivation

  • Avoiding everyday tasks and decisions

  • Feeling hopeless, helpless or suicidal

Causes of depression include grief following the loss of a loved one, adjustment to a military injury or reintegration into civilian society, but sometimes there is no apparent reason.


Twice as prevalent for military personnel, anxiety is a part of the body’s natural fight or flight response; a preparation for immediate action following a threat. But anxiety incorporates imagined and non-dangerous threats into daily life, resulting in:

  • Feeling constant worry and unease

  • Needing reassurance from others

  • Avoiding places, people, thoughts and feelings

Physical conditions of anxiety include sweating, palpitations and panic attacks which worsen the condition and cause further anxiety.


Some veterans turn to substances such as alcohol and drugs, or activities like gambling and gaming in order to reduce stress and help escape a traumatic memory. However the long-term effects are debilitating. Addiction may be indicated by:

  • Lack of control or being unable to quit

  • Giving up activities and relationships

  • Hiding it from others who might express concern

Recovering from addiction may provoke short-term withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea and anxiety. However, addiction can have a much more significant impact on health if sustained for a long period of time.

Whilst many activities are required to prepare service personnel for physical and mental demands, the combined impacts of training, combat and post-military life can be misunderstood.

If you are looking for military advice, our specialist lawyers are here to guide you through your available options. Get in touch with our team to see how we can help, by emailing MilitaryEnquiries@wilkinchapman.co.uk outside of office hours, or calling our freephone number 0800 046 2567 on weekdays between 9am and 5pm.

Please note this article has been provided as information only and should not be regarded as specific advice to your needs.

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