HEALTH WATCH: Local veteran shares his depression battle

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The U.S. Department of veterans Affairs says around 20 veterans take their own lives each day.

Just last weekend, a decorated U.S. Navy admiral was found dead in his home in Bahrain, in the Persian Gulf, the victim of an apparent suicide.

As the holiday season is upon us, health care professionals recommend checking on the veterans that you know.

Retired Sergeant First Class Bryan Bevley is a former drill sergeant in the Army. He enlisted in 1983 and retired in 2003. Facing a back injury for years with the added pain of two severely arthritic hips, changed him as a person. The pain drove a wedge between Bevley and his family and sent him into depression.

“Sometimes I’d be in the bed in the fetal position, just didn’t want to do anything.Became pretty grumpy and aggressive with my family. Didn’t want to talk with them sometimes. I wanted them to just leave me alone.”

His wife Sharon, a mental health professional got him the counseling he needed.

Stephanie Spann is the Chief of Social Work for Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System which serves our area in Georgia and Alabama. She says this season is a good time to check on the veterans you know.

“A lot of people forget and think that the holidays are a joyous occasion and it is for a number of people, but not for everyone. Sometimes the holidays can bring upon depression, feelings of sadness.”

Spann suggests changing traditions as an option for making the holiday season easier to bare. .. For example, eliminating alcohol from celebrations as it could lead to more sadness. If PTSD is a problem with large crowds, try a smaller crowd this year. Also, don’t be afraid or ashamed if you don’t want to attend an event.

Veterans battling depression can seek help at the VA’s mental health clinics as well as the mental health clinicians available at the primary care clinics. There’s also a Veterans Crisis Line. The  number to call is 1-800-273-8255. There’s someone available 24/7.

SIGNS OF DEPRESSION:

More tired than usual

Loss of interest in the things that once brought you joy

Trouble concentrating

Gaining or losing weight

Eating more or less than usual almost every day

Sleeping too much or not enough almost every day

Feeling restless and unable to sit still

Feeling that moving takes great effort

Feeling tired or as if you have no energy almost every day

Feeling unworthy or guilty nearly every day

Having low self-esteem or feeling down on yourself

Finding it hard to focus, remember things, or make decisions nearly every day

Feeling anxious, worried, or nervous

Drinking more alcohol or caffeine

Taking more of a prescription or over-the-counter medication than is directed

Smoking or using tobacco more often

Veterans Crisis Line

1-800-273-8255, Press 1

To learn more about suicide prevention, Suicide Prevention

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