Background Military training is a stressful and unusual event. It may predispose individuals towards mental health problems. The stress of military training has been shown to result in depressive symptoms that can potentially influence the combat ability of a soldier. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of depressive symptoms among recruits during military training in Northern Pakistan and analyse the associated socio-demographic factors.
Subjects and method The study was carried out at the Mujahid Force Center, Bhimber, in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) in the North of Pakistan. This is one of the training institutes of the Pakistan Army. The sample population comprised of 313 adult men undergoing military training at Bhimber AJK. General Health Questionnaire 12 (GHQ-12) was used to screen for any psychiatric illness, and those with a score >4 were administered the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) to record the presence and severity of depressive symptoms. Age, service type (general duty soldier, cook or clerk), education, level of family income, marital status, tobacco smoking, use of naswar (tobacco based substance), worrying about future and social support status were correlated with depressive symptoms to evaluate the association of these factors with depression in the study population.
Results Out of 313 recruits screened with GHQ-12, 232 were found to have a score of 4 or more as an indicator of the presence of psychiatric morbidity, and had the BDI administered. Of these 232 recruits, 31.5% had no depressive symptoms, 41.4% had mild, 17.7% had moderate and 9.5% had severe depressive symptoms. With logistic regression, we found significant correlation among depressive symptoms and level of family income, worrying about future and lack of social support.
Conclusions Prevalence of depressive symptoms was high among recruits. Special attention should be paid to recruits from low socioeconomic background and those who lack social support and who worry about the future.
- PUBLIC HEALTH