Women Veterans Health Care
Depression can affect anyone. It can cause strong feelings of sadness or hopelessness. You may also find you have less interest in activities you used to enjoy. Depression is the most common mental health diagnosis among women Veterans.
The signs and symptoms of depression may be hard to notice at first. Depression is a serious condition, but even severe depression is treatable. Treatments often work quickly, sometimes within a few weeks or months, depending on the nature or severity of your symptoms.
We provide special trainings for our mental health care providers, more than half of whom are women, so you receive the best possible care. We also have Women's Mental Health Champions at every VA medical center. They are mental health clinicians with specific training, interest, and expertise in women Veterans' mental health. Women's Mental Health Champions can help connect you with local resources and support.
What services does VA provide for depression?
To find options for treatment, your Women's Health Primary Care Provider is a good place to start. They may be able to prescribe medication to relieve depression symptoms including anxiety, sleep issues, and other related problems. They can also refer you to a mental health professional for therapy. Examples of effective therapies for depression include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression (CBT-D)
- Teaches you to modify unhelpful thought patterns and behaviors that affect your depression.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Depression (ACT-D)
- Helps you to get in touch with your values, and to take active steps to improve your life that are consistent with your values and priorities.
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)
- Focuses on healing relationships that may be the cause or the result of depression.
We can also refer you to a Peer Specialist. Peer specialists are Veterans who have experienced and recovered from a mental health condition. As members of your treatment team, their role is to help you design your own recovery plan, using tools such as personal goal setting and targeted coping skills training. They can also connect you with VA and local resources to help you find meaningful roles and activities in your community. You can request a referral from your VA health care provider to work with a peer specialist.
How do I access services for depression at VA?
If you have questions or can't find what you're looking for, you can call, text, or chat online with the Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC) at 855-829-6636 to get help and find available resources and services in your area. Trained women representatives can also help you with issues such as:
- Enrolling in VA health care if you have not already
- Setting up a medical appointment in your area
- Answering questions about eligibility (including questions about disability ratings) and other VA benefits like employment, education, and home loans
WVCC representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET.
If you don't already use VA health care, you can also use the following online tools:
- Find out if you are eligible for VA health care.
- Enroll in VA health care if you haven't already.
- Find your local VA to learn about what services may be available and to make an appointment.
All former Service members and Veterans are eligible for one year of free mental health care services, regardless of discharge status. Even if you are not eligible to receive other VA health care, you may still be able to get certain health care services, like care related to military sexual trauma (MST) (that is, experiences of sexual assault or sexual harassment during military service).
If you do not have VA health care benefits but you've served in a combat zone, get counseling, alcohol and drug assessment, and other support at one of our 300 community Vet Centers. MST-related care is also available at Vet Centers, and you don't have to have combat service. Contact a Vet Center and ask to speak with someone about getting help for depression.
If you already have a VA health care provider, talk with them about your symptoms and treatment preferences. They can also help you make an appointment with a VA mental health clinician. You can receive care for depression at a VA medical centers, community-based outpatient clinics, or Vet Centers. You may also receive depression care through telehealth, where you connect with a VA mental health clinician through a computer or mobile device. To set up telephone or video appointments, you can send your health care team a secure message on My HealtheVet by visiting www.myhealth.va.gov.
Can I get disability compensation (monthly payments) or other benefits from VA related to depression?
Veterans may be able to receive compensation for conditions that started or got worse in the line of duty. This may include depression. Explore disability eligibility here. If you have questions, a Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) representative at your nearest regional office can explain more. Find your nearest regional office.
Where can I find more information, help and resources on depression?
- If you are struggling and need help right now, contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit https://www.veteranscrisisline.net. You can call, text, or chat online with caring, qualified VA responders. Many of them are Veterans or family members of Veterans.
- Get information about depression, treatment, and the support we offer.
- Check out apps that support mental health.
- Learn about postpartum depression.
- Visit our self-help resources guide to get links to books, web resources, and mobile apps that have been reviewed and recommended by VA experts.
- Go to our Make the Connection website to get resources and watch stories of Veterans, including women Veterans, who've overcome depression and other mental health challenges.
- Get information about suicide prevention if you are concerned about yourself or someone you know.