Veterans who have been deployed and were in intense and prolonged combat are at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. PTSD – an anxiety disorder known by various names, including shell shock and battle fatigue – has probably been around as long as soldiers have been fighting battles. But only in recent decades has PTSD been recognized as a serious and debilitating condition.
Anyone who has gone through combat or an event that causes feelings of intense fear or helplessness can develop PTSD, including combat veterans, survivors of terrorist attacks, survivors of serious accidents, and survivors of physical or sexual assault. Strong emotions caused by the event create changes in the brain that may result in post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is the most prevalent mental health issue related to combat or exposure to combat stress.
Derek L. Hall, PC assists veterans in pursuing disability claims for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other veterans disability claims. Contact our Jackson Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder attorneys today at 601-768-8267.
The number of PTSD claims processed by the Veterans Administration has increased dramatically over the past several years. From 1999 to 2007, the number of veterans receiving compensation benefits for PTSD increased from 120,000 to nearly 300,000, according to the Veterans Administration. In July 2010, the Veterans Administration acknowledged that those who were exposed to prolonged stress from the threat of attack, even if not directly in combat, were eligible to pursue claims for PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD usually start soon after the life-threatening event, but may not occur until months or years later and without proper diagnosis and treatment, may continue for years. Severe PTSD can make it difficult to continue with normal daily routines and activities. The symptoms include intrusive, bad memories or flashbacks triggered by a sound or sight, and feelings of emotional numbness. PTSD sufferers may avoid normal relationships, avoid situations that trigger memories of the event, or feel anxious and be always on the lookout for danger.
There are four types of PTSD symptoms:
Reliving The Event (Also called Re-Experiencing Symptoms)
Bad memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place. You may have nightmares. You even may feel like you’re going through the event again. This is called a flashback. Sometimes there is a trigger — a sound or sight that causes you to relive the event. Triggers might include:
- Hearing a car backfire, which can bring back memories of gunfire and war for a combat veteran.
- Seeing a car accident, which can remind a crash survivor of his or her own accident.
- Seeing a news report of a sexual assault, which may bring back memories of assault for a person who was raped.
Avoiding Situations That Remind You Of The Event
You may try to avoid situations or people who trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event. For example:
- A person who was in an earthquake may avoid watching television shows or movies in which there are earthquakes.
- A person who was robbed at gunpoint while ordering at a hamburger drive-in may avoid fast-food restaurants.
Some people may keep very busy or avoid seeking help. This keeps them from having to think or talk about the event.
- You may find it hard to express your feelings. This is another way to avoid memories.
- You may not have positive or loving feelings toward other people and may stay away from relationships.
- You may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy.
- You may not be able to remember parts of the traumatic event or not be able to talk about them.
Feeling Keyed Up (Also Called Hyperarousal)
You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. This is known as hyperarousal. It can cause you to:
- Suddenly become angry or irritable
- Have a hard time sleeping
- Have trouble concentrating
- Fear for your safety and always feel on guard
- Be very startled when something surprises you
What Are Other Common Problems?
People with PTSD may also have other problems. These include:
- Drinking or drug problems
- Feelings of hopelessness, shame or despair
- Employment problems
- Relationships problems, including divorce and violence
- Physical symptoms
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers disability compensation to veterans suffering from PTSD. To be eligible for the benefits, a veteran must show:
- A clear medical diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder;
- Evidence of a stressor event that occurred during military services; or
- Evidence that the stressor event is a cause of the veteran’s PTSD
In July 2010, the VA changed some of the criteria for those suffering from PTSD but who were previously unable to make the connection to their service because they were not directly involved in combat. The new rule states:
“A Veteran will be able to establish the occurrence of an in-service stressor through his or her own testimony, provided that: (1) the Veteran is diagnosed with PTSD; (2) a VA psychiatrist or psychologist, or a psychiatrist or psychologist with whom VA has contracted confirms that the claimed stressor is adequate to support a PTSD diagnosis; (3) the Veteran’s symptoms are related to the claimed stressor; and (4) the claimed stressor is consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of the Veteran’s service and the record provides no clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.”
Establishing any claim for VA disability benefits can be confusing and frustrating. The attorneys at Derek L. Hall, PC can help you obtain your veterans disability benefits for PTSD.
If you think you may be eligible for disability benefits on the basis of post-traumatic stress disorder or other service-related disabilities, contact Derek L. Hall, PC today for a free consultation. We can offer guidance regarding your eligibility.