Australian Defence Force personnel – past and present – not only make sacrifices on our behalf on the front line or in the many other functions fulfilled by serving personnel. They are also more more likely to suffer from mental conditions including panic attacks, anxiety and stress, research from Roy Morgan shows.
In the year to December 2012, defence force personnel, past and present, were more than twice as likely as the Australian average to report having suffered one or more panic attacks in the last 12 months.
Male defence force members are almost three times more likely than the average Australian man aged 14+ to have panic attacks, at nearly 8% compared with the norm of under 3% of men. Just over one in seven defence force men report anxiety -a rate over 50% higher than the gender norm.
However, the rate of stress between groups is similar and depression is actually less prevalent among defence force males than others.
Overall a man in, or formerly in, the defence force is 25% more likely than average to have had at least one form of mental illnesses in the past year.
Around one in seven females with the defence force report panic attacks (over 2.5 times the national rate for women). Depression affects one in four (63% more than average), and stress just over two in five (44% above average).
"As we show our appreciation to our defence forces on Anzac Day, I think it's important that Australians understand that a current or former role in the defence force can contribute to above-average rates of mental conditions such as anxiety and stress," says Roy Morgan CEO, Michelle Levine.
“It is notable that the rate of panic attacks is so much higher than average for both genders, and that one in four women in the defence force is affected by depression and/or anxiety, while for men anxiety is almost twice as common as depression despite equivalence among the general population."