Clinically Depressed Marine

July 19th, 2004  

Topic: Clinically Depressed Marine

My brother is in the USMC infantry. He made it through basic, SOI, and one tour in Iraq with no problems. In March of this year, he started having some problems with concentration and hallucinations. My mom and I flew out to see him, and we thought the situation was under control. We talk to him frequently on the phone and he says everything is fine.

Last week, he got home on pre-deployment leave, and I could immediately tell he wasn't okay. He does have a history of drinking, and apparently he was involved in an incident over the 4th of July weekend. He blacked-out, was in a fight, and was almost busted down in rank. His performance has been slipping. At one point he was a squad leader and an excellent rifle-man. Now he is becoming increasingly isolated in his group as he struggles to take care of his duties.

My mom took him to see a doctor last week, who almost immediately diaganosed him as being clinically depressed. The symptoms mostly being poor memory, confusion, disappointment in self, trouble handling responsibilities. These symptoms are in conjunction with chronic drinking.

My brother agreed with the doctor on a plan to cease drinking, increase exercise, and try to stick to a routine, but he didn't want to be medicated. I worry this isn't going to cut it. Looking back he has struggled with this before but never to this degree. He doesn't necessarily seem sad. It's more a general numbness and confusion. It's to the point now where he can barely hold a conversation.

So he's home for another week and in California until the end of August before he deploys to Iraq again. He wants to tough this out and definitely doesn't want out of his deployment. I think he sees the Marines as his contribution to society and would be lost without it.

Can anyone share on any of the following:

- similar experiences.

- options for help within the military structure

- implications for his deployment

- possibilities for being medicated during a deployment.

- can we talk to his officers without endangering his status

- possible issues with drugs he is getting in relation to deployment

- recommendations on who he could talk to on base

Advice is appreciated,

Marine Brother
July 20th, 2004  
Probably he or the family should talk to the Chaplain in the base. It's better to speak his case so that the army can recommend the next course for him... rather than to hide the facts. If he flares up in camp and his case is not known beforehand, I'm afraid he might be punished according to military rules.
July 20th, 2004  
Well, I can't tell you what the USMC will do, but I do know there are two types of courage.

One kind of courage enables you to face down a world of troubles by yourself and prevail.

The other is the courage to call out to your friends when you stumble, and get them to lend their strength to lift you back on your feet.

Your brother, with his background, does not need to prove his courage to anyone: he has already done that.

He simply needs to decide which kind of courage is most appropriate in his current situation, and assess for himself where his duty lies.
July 20th, 2004  
Well I can't tell you how any of that relates to the Marines, but I have had severe depression since I was seven years old. (I'm 27 now)

So if you have any questions about depression in general I could answer them for ya... I know alot about it. And you don't nessesarily have to seem "sad" to be depressed. All the things you described:

The symptoms mostly being poor memory, confusion, disappointment in self, trouble handling responsibilities.
I don't blame your bro for wanting any meds.... Although if he doesn't mind herbal remedies St. Johns Wort is something to look into. If you have anything specific to ask me just PM me.
July 21st, 2004  
This is something that needs to be brought up to the units chaplain for sure. The family can try and get in touch with the chaplain, try to avoid his unit. I am not sayin they would do somethin but it could hurt him. Grunt units are pretty tight usually and it will not look good on him. I am sure someone has had to have noticed a change in him. He needs this to be checked because it could also be assessed as post tramatic syndrome and that is not somethin to be messin with. See a chaplain, he will help.
July 23rd, 2004  
Desert Blossom
I'm not in the Marines but I am in the AF and I also have clinical depression. It's a horrible thing to have. It runs in my family so it wasn't a shock when I was diagnosed last year. I was so miserable all of the time and I just remember staying in my dorm room for days crying and sleeping. I didn't want to see any one or talk to anyone. You get so caught up in being miserable and focusing on the negative that it's hard to concentrate on anything else.
When I was diagnosed they put me on SSRI's. Clinical depression is a disorder in which not enough serotonin is released in your brain. The SSRI's help to correct that and they are wonderful things. I was pretty against taking meds but once I got on them I felt so much better. I was on them for over a year and recently when I was deployed I decided I didn't need them anymore and I've been off of them for almost 4 months.

If you have any questions I'd be happy to try and answer them... It's a crappy place to be but I know where your brother's at and when you're at that point getting back up to the top seems nearly impossible.
July 24th, 2004  
It sounds to me that he suffers from PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Not sure what to tell you other then to have talk to chaplin first because its all confidential also I saw a Phone number for it somewhere I will try to track it down. Its to civilians doctors so that the fear of ruining a career is removed I know thats the biggest reason people dont go talk about this sort of thing is they dont want to be branded with a bad Image.

No luck on the number but I have this
July 24th, 2004  
another one to try is

If it is PTSD it is something he should deal with right away. Something like that can only be diagnosed by a pdoc though.

My father had PTSD when I was growing up.... Not a good thing..... I don't know if your brother has children or not, but trust me, something like that can have a big impact on a kid.