Research suggests that female veterans of the United States military are more likely than their male counterparts to report mental health concerns such as posttraumatic stress, depression and suicidal thoughts. The purpose of this study was to explore the interaction of service era (time period during which active duty service occurred), social support, and beliefs about mental health care utility as they relate to depression in female veterans in the hope of improving health programming for this priority population.

Materials & Methods: Secondary analysis of data from the 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) involved logistic regression analysis of a large, nationally-sourced sample of 54,060 veterans, of whom 8.5% were women (n = 4,544). Correlations were found between social support, service era, and treatment stigma variables as they predicted outcome variables of diagnosed and undiagnosed depression.

Results: Of the nationally-sourced sample of 4,544 female veterans, 25.5% reported a medically-diagnosed depression condition of mild, moderate, or major severity. Of veterans in the sample who did not already have a depression diagnosis, 12% indicated the presence of symptoms that indicate undiagnosed depression of mild, moderate, or major severity. Female veterans from recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were more likely than older peers to be struggling with symptoms that may indicate undiagnosed depression or to have a depression diagnosis.

Conclusion: The findings of this study aided in identifying three demographic and behavioral health predictors of diagnosed depression and one predictor of undiagnosed depression in the female military veteran population that demonstrated both practical and statistical significance.

Please read full article by clicking below. This article was written by Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, Dr. David Albright, Dr. Maggie Shields, Dr. Emily Kaufman, Cate Michaud, Sarah Plummer Taylor MSW, and Dr. Karl Hamner, and is published in the Journal of Military and Veterans’ Health, which is a peer reviewed journal published by the Australasian Military Medicine Association.

Predictors of Depression Diagnoses and Symptoms in United States Female Veterans: Results from a National Survey and Implications for Programming