That's the message from brain scientists studying the relationship between stress and problems such as depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
Researchers at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans presented studies showing how stress caused by everything from battlefield trauma to bullying can alter brain circuitry in ways that have long-term effects on mental health.
The military and the Department of Veterans Affairs say they want more veterans and service members to get appropriate treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
That's why they're tweaking the way they define and treat PTSD. But if this approach works, it could add to the backlog of PTSD cases.
For years, the standard definition for post-traumatic stress disorder had a key feature that didn't fit for the military. It said that the standard victim responds to the trauma he or she has experienced with "helplessness and fear."
Over the past five years, the Department of Veterans Affairs says, the number of former service members seeking mental health services has climbed by a third. In response, the agency has boosted funding and tightened standards.