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7 common mental health conditions veterans experience (and how to get help)

Not all wounds are visible, and Veterans’ mental health is commonly affected by their service in the military. Between harsh environments and highly challenging situations during deployment, many Veterans experience hardship with their mental health. Some conditions are more common than others, and can even cause physical conditions to arise as a result.


According to one study, Veterans are at an even higher risk of mental health conditions compared to civilians. Out of 5,500 surveyed, nearly 25% of respondents tested positive for some type of mental disorder. While the numbers are sobering, there’s hope to be had: Resources are more available than ever before, and Veterans can get the benefits and support they need with the right documentation and claim process. Scroll to the bottom for how we can help.


Research has shown that these are the 7 most common mental health conditions that Veterans experience:


Depression

Depression is highly common for both civilians and Veterans, defined as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest” by the Mayo Clinic. It can lead to physical problems as well, if it begins to affect one’s ability to carry on their daily habits as they would without depression.


Research from the VA estimated that around 1 in 3 Veterans visiting primary care clinics has some form of mild depression, 1 in 5 has serious symptoms, and 1 in 8 to 10 has major depression requiring treatment with antidepressants or psychotherapy.


Anxiety

Everyone gets anxious here and there – it’s a highly human emotion. When it becomes chronic or intense, however, it becomes a disorder. Anxiety comes in many forms: Social, generalized, panic attacks, and specific phobias. For Veterans, exposure to combat can be a significant cause of anxiety. Find resources for anxiety through the VA here, and remember: You are not alone.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The American Psychiatric Association defines Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as “a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, series of events or set of circumstances.” For Veterans, the trauma of military combat can cause PTSD – and it often does for many. The VA’s Office of Research and Development estimates that around 8 percent of the general population will experience PTSD at some point, and for Veterans, that percentage increases to between 10 and 20 percent for those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan.


Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

As defined by the VA, a Traumatic Brain Injury “caused by exposure to explosions is common among Veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. TBI is an injury to the head that disrupts the normal functioning of the brain.” When the incident occurs, immediate symptoms include loss of consciousness, confusion, and memory loss.


The long-term symptoms are much broader, but can include the following:

  • Slowness in thinking and speaking

  • Compromised ability to read

  • Difficulty focusing

  • Headaches

  • Neck pain

  • Depression

  • Anxiety


Schizophrenia

People who experience schizophrenia have a wide variety of symptoms that can differ greatly from person to person – but the condition can best be simply defined as: “a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally” (Mayo Clinic). According to one study from 2014, approximately 120,000 Veterans receiving VA health care were experiencing schizophrenia. It’s possible to receive service-connection for this mental health condition.


Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder involves extreme mood swings between manic highs and depressive lows. Since it can be triggered by stressful events (Mayo Clinic), claims can be made that an existing condition was exacerbated by military service. If a Veteran experienced heightened stress during their service, this could lead to an increase in bipolar disorder symptoms.


Substance Use Disorders (SUD)

Substance Use Disorders, or SUD for short, include alcohol, nicotine, and both prescription and illegal drugs. The VA states that SUD commonly co-occurs with other conditions, which can go on to affect Veterans’ mental and physical health, plus ability to find work and maintain housing. Heavy episodic drinking is the most common form of SUD in Veterans, according to this study.


How to get disability benefits as a Veteran with a mental health condition

Mental health matters and you deserve support. Between preparing the right documentation for the VA and chart review, we can help you move forward with getting VA disability benefits that you’ve earned.


Here’s how we can help:


  • Watch our free, 60-minute webinar on how to simplify your VA disability claims.

  • Sign up for our course "Master Service Connection: A Course To Maximize Your VA Disability Rating FAST!".

  • Connect with a medical expert at MRPY for a Nexus Letter here.

Sign up for an expert chart review here.




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