Can I join the military if I take anti-depressants?
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NO! If you are on them currently, stop taking them (under a doctor’s supervision). Then go to the recruiter and never EVER mention those drugs or that you ever took them. Then go to MEPS and DO NOT mention those drugs. Ever. They will tell you if you lie you will go to prison for years and they will rape your mother but it’s not true, it’s just procedure. I was on ADHD meds when I tried to join and my recruiter told me not to mention them at MEPS. I got scared and admitted to using them and was immediately disqualified and it took me 3 years of waivers and psychiatrist checkups and so on to finally get in (then I got booted out after 8 months ^.^) and my recruiter never talked to me again because she got in trouble (I had to join the Navy instead of Air Force). When I got to boot camp I found out half the people in my division were on drugs at MEPS and were just smart enough to not mention it. I felt like a fool for being honest. If you really want to join, just say NO when they ask about previous/current drugs. Depending on what drug you are on, you could probably go through MEPS now if you wanted to and just make sure you get off them before you ship out (they don’t test for most antidepressants, usually just coke/amphetamine/mary jane) but to be completely safe get off them before going to the recruiter and keep your mouth shut. They don’t care and they aren’t going to pull up your medical history. They only know what you tell them.
Chances are that you will be disqualified, at least from the US Army.
First, IAW AR 40-501, Chapter 2, 2-27:
“d. Current mood disorders including, but not limited to, major depression (296.2–3), bipolar (296.4–7), affective psychoses (296.8–9), depressive not otherwise specified (311), do not meet the standard.”
“(1) History of mood disorders requiring outpatient care for longer than 6 months by a physician or other mentalhealth professional (V65.40), or inpatient treatment in a hospital or residential facility does not meet the standard.”
As you can see, depression can be an issue as well as any outpatient treatment which lasts longer than 6 months. A lot will come down to the duration of treatment as well as the diagnosis that you have been saddled with. If you start mentioning diagnosis that include anxiety and other issues, you will find that there are even more regulations which provide guidance regarding disqualification.
The military does not take mental health issues lightly, especially considering how it can impact service and the servicemember’s overall well-being.
My suggestion: work with your doctor. DO NOT try to come off of needed medications or try to work away from your treatment if it is needed. Enlistment is not worth what it could do to you, and those you serve with. Not everyone gets to serve. You might consider going to The Federal Government’s Official Jobs Site and see if there are some civilian career paths around the military which may allow you to serve in a capacity which permits you to maintain your mental health.
Also, do NOT lie. Let me say that again. DO NOT LIE. You will get caught quickly and then you are dealing with fraudulent enlistment.
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The military are looking to recruit as many people as they can, they usually focus on poorer areas where job opportunities are rare. They have also made it easier to enter the military (excepting older people and people with certain mental health conditions).
They conduct comprehensive psychological and physical assessments! I don’t think that they would want to take on people with anxiety and depression.
Having said that, many people in the military suffer from anxiety and depression and Post traumatic stress disorder. And from what I hear, these people are regarded as a liability.
Many military veterans have reported that the military refused to help them with the costs of treating their illness. In fact, the military does not offer long term treatment to people that have been traumatised by their deployment.
I think that you should turn the question around and ask yourself if joining the military is a good idea for you. Specifically, will jointing the military exacerbate your depression.
Essentially you’ll be called upon to harm others and do as ordered! Witnessing the consequences of war (death, destruction and impoverished people living in bad conditions) can and will bring about anxiety attacks and trigger your depression.
You risk being traumatised by what you see and do in the military! In fact, your condition is likely to get worse if you expose yourself to prolonged stress and trauma.
I’m not entirely sure, but I can give you my experience.
In 2014, I was a high school senior and considering joining the Air Force. I met with the recruiter for a couple hours and he had me fill out an application. On the application it asked for a history of mental illness diagnoses and prescriptions related. I was completely honest and wrote down all medications I’ve been on (including antidepressants), past therapy, etc. My recruiter took one look at it and told me very nicely that the Air Force would not accept someone with a history of mental illness/antidepressant and anti anxiety medication use. He gave me another application to fill out omitting that information and I was cleared to join.
I never did join and I’m not sure if every recruiter experience is like mine, but that’s how mine went.
let me let me tell you a story, my recruiter when I was trying to join was willing to take the top page of all my medical information and throw it away, because it had that I took antidepressants on that page. The rest of the pages were great. However he wasn’t willing to back me up and it comes to being discovered and of course I would be legally responsible in all by myself. I lost my faith in the u.s. recruiting system at that point and decided that the military Next Step. So the answer would be technically no you cannot join if you’ve been on anti-depressants
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You are unlikely to finish basic training with these traits because you will be overly sensitive to treatment many men without such afflictions fail to tolerate.
We have very good medicines to control anxiety and your anxiety and depression are co-morbid—if you suppress one, you suppress both. Depression is a more difficult issue because every single person with depression is a unique case.
The best person in the world to ask this question to is a military recruiter, who will know about hundreds of cases like yours and will be able to give you specific advice. Of all the services, I believe the Coast Guard would be the best opportunity for you, so talk to them first.
Let’s be honest. If you are currently or previously been depressed or treated for a Mental Health issue, why would you want to join the military? It’s not like the movies, all fun and shooting paintballs at each other. Your initial training whether its Boot or Basic training the lifestyle is anything but pleasant. I enjoyed my specialty training but I can’t think of anyone who said “Basic” was fun let’s do it every year. The entire program, hell, your entire military will be built upon stress regarding your life, your buddy’s life and the safety of your family and friends. For the record, in this day, you will find yourself deployed, believe me, you will exceed the expectations of your medication… Do what’s RIGHT! The World According 2 Military Mike
Former recruiter here. Last I heard was at least one year off the meds and med docs saying you’ve had no problems since and you’re functioning normally.
Regardless you may still need a medical waiver. Usually not a problem provided you’re doing okay off the meds.
Get every scrap of med documentation ready before going to your recruiter. If you bring it in on your first visit it will demonstrate that you’re proactive and well prepared. Even though that’s not a medical issue impressing the recruiter works in your favor as he/she will be more likely to write a rosier waiver request.
Simple answer..not a good idea. Look at it from this perspective.I personally know people who joined the military and had absolutely NO HISTORY of depression,anxiety or any other mental health issue at all before going in. Those same people ended up developing those illnesses SEVERELY from the stress,things they have seen an been threw while serving with ptsd on top of it.
Now imagine some one who ALREADY has these illnesses and joins. Straight recipe for disaster . It would be like someone who has chronic asthma or cancer even and then decided to start smoking ..chances are that person will have even more of an issue then someone who doesn’t .
You already have some pertinent answers, just remember, that if by some chance, you were able to somehow be admitted, that in a dangerous situation, because of you’re not being in a stable frame of mind, someone could be hurt, or even worse simply because of that fact. When one is in any branch of the Armed Forces, attempting to be admitted under false pretentions could cause possible serious situations and very serious situations if, or when that issue might and probably would arise. Now you’re talking prison time…RICHARD CLEARMOUNTAIN…
I am not sure anxiety and the military are a good pair.
The military service can get a bit crazy. Sleep deprived, rushed meals, lack of privacy, intense physical training, combat and more can cause anxiety. However, some thrive in the organized and structured environment of the armed services.
Medication implies a medical professional so start there and discover if it is OK for you. Next if the doctor believes it is a good idea, approach the service of your choice and ask.
My expectation is that a civil service job can give you a structured environment, stability and health care services that some with anxiety thrive in.
Do explore the idea…
The armed services are large and have need for a lot of skills.
They are selective in ways that often make little sense. The needs of the services are arbitrary, capricious and selfish. If they decline it does not reflect on you, it is simply the arbitrary, capricious, selfish and changing needs of the service.