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Panic attacks and anxiety well over the norm for men in defence forces; depression, stress affect women

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Australian Defence Force personnel, including former members, are more likely to suffer from mental conditions including panic attacks, anxiety and stress, the latest research from Roy Morgan shows.

In the year to December 2012, defence force personnel, past and present, were over 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: nearly 8% compared to 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.

Rates of illnesses among male defence force personnel compared to all men

Rates of illnesses among male defence force personnel compared to all menSource: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia) January — December 2012.
Base: Total Male Australian 14+ population sample n = 25,750; Male Defence Force Personnel sample n = 343.

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).

Rates of illnesses among female defence force personnel compared to all women



Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia) January — December 2012.
Base: Total Female Australian population sample n = 26,428; Female Defence Force Personnel sample n = 94.

Although the reported numbers are too small to be statistically verifiable, research suggests women in the defence force could also be up to six times more likely than other women to have had a mood disorder (excluding depression and bipolar) with around 10% reporting such an illness.

Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan Research, says:

“It is notable that the rate of panic attacks is so much higher than average for both sexes, and that one in four women in the defence force is affected by depression and/or anxiety, whereas for men anxiety is almost twice as common as depression despite equivalence among the general population.

"It is important that Australians understand that a current or former role in the defence force could contribute to above-average rates of mental conditions such as anxiety and stress."

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For comments or further detail, please contact:

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research

Email: Michele.Levine@roymorgan.com

Telephone: +61 (03) 9224 5215; Mobile: 0411 129 093

Thumbnail image: copyright Mosman Council, Flickr Creative Commons