Can I join the military if I take anti-depressants?

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    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.

    Growing up I took Paxil, and when I communicated the issue to my doctor, he ‘misplaced’ that section of my records for me.

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    You can join the military with a lot worse. If the question is “does a diagnosed disclosed condition of anxiety prevent you on paper” then possibly, but even then… . Here’s the deal: If the military is your dream, then daggone do it. Everybody has a certain level of anxiety, some more debilitating than others, but remember that life’s not fair and whatever is worth it to you must be taken by force.

    I respect a person who overcomes odds to do the things they want, because they are the people who will do the same in life / death situations. The hardcore athletic motherfucker is good to have when everything is status quo and all we have to do is shoot. But the crazy determined fool who joined in spite of all kinds of shit going against them is the most reliable when everything’s gone to shit.

    Stop asking the question if you really want to join; find a way to understand your mind and then create a life hack to at least put your anxiety in some submission. Then become a soldier or airman or Marine or sailer or coastiebaby or legionnaire or whatever other service is in your heart. As for whether or not they will “let” you, I say knock on enough recruiters doors-one will get you in.

    Overcoming anxiety and doing the damn thing will put you mentally leagues ahead of anyone you’ll meet in boot. Those are the intangibles that the real warriors embody. It wouldn’t be your only challenge, but it will be your first major victory. Get at it and good luck.

    It is not the size or ability of the dog in the fight, it is the amount of “fuck it” in the dog that matters.

    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.

    If you are on antidepressants now, chances of enlistment are a No-Go across the board for all military branches. If you wish to still speak to a recruiter and try to enlist, they will most likely tell you there is a 24 month waiting period between the time you discontinue taking antidepressants and the time of enlistment when you try to join. Because I do not know your situation, I do not recommend stopping your antidepressant medication. I feel like it would be dangerous for me to have you do that to yourself. I wouldn’t want you compromising your health just to enlist in the military especially if a doctor recommended taking an antidepressant for you for any reason like anxiety and/or depression. If that is the case, I’d recommend that you don’t enlist into the military if I was a recruiter, not just to be anal and “not want to do extra paperwork for a waiver” to get you in, but just to look out for your best interest at heart. Military service increases the chances of seeing combat should you deploy overseas at some point in your military career if you join. Plus, you’d be away from your loved ones on the homefront for months at a time with uncertainty of whether you will make it home alive still in one piece or not. Which would raise a lot of concern for individuals who are on an antidepressant for anxiety or depression. Imagine what could happen to them if their unit is deployed in a remote area overseas where there are literally no medical facilities or pharmacy to go to fill their antidepressant prescriptions. Without their medication, they might relapse into a major depressive episode or even become a danger to him/herself and other military personnel. Scary, if you think about it. As dangerous and life-threatening as combat deployments are, that can exacerbate anxiety and/or depression like that in some people. Sometimes your health and wellness is what’s more important than joining the military. Concerning waivers, I do not know about the enlistment criteria for the Marines, Navy, Air Force, or Coast Guard, but I do believe the Army will not entertain a waiver for antidepressant use, both past or present. But I can imagine the waiver criteria for the other branches may be similar to the enlistment standards for the Army concerning what medical conditions are waivable and nonwaivable as far as waivers are concerned.

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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.


    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.

    Good luck.

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    From what I understand, no. The military wants to make sure your mind is in the right place without depending on medication before you join.

    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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