An Overview of Anxiety Disorders in Veterans
Some veterans and service members develop anxiety disorder after experiencing trauma, or during high-stress situations, such as the transition from military to civilian life. Feeling anxious from stress is a normal part of life, and everyone endures stress from time to time. However, severe anxiety in veterans is not temporary. Anxiety after military service can be a long-lasting medical condition.
Severe anxiety in veterans is common and there are help and treatment for anxiety and anxiety-related issues. There are also VA disability benefits available to veterans as well for anxiety disorders. In today’s post, we will go over some of the different types of anxiety disorder and their symptoms along with how the VA rates these conditions for VA benefits.
General Anxiety Disorder
General Anxiety Disorder (GAD, sometimes known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder) is most common among veterans who were involved in a conflict. This anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive, persistent worrying that is hard to control, and by psychological and physical symptoms of anxiety that together, can cause significant personal distress and impairment to everyday functions. Some symptoms of GAD include:
- Poor sleep and sleep impairment
- Being irritable
- Difficulty concentrating, and/or memory loss
- Physical pain in the neck, shoulders, and back
Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder
Panic attacks are intense periods of fear or feelings of doom that develop over a short time. Panic attacks are associated with sudden overwhelming fear, chest pain, and shortness of breath, sweating, and sometimes a feeling of being detached from the world.
Panic disorder involves recurrent panic attacks along with the constant fear of having continuous panic attacks in the future and avoiding situations in which a panic attack may arise.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder can also be referred to as “social phobia”. Veterans who experience frequent and unending fear of social situations or situations where they are expected to perform in some way may be suffering from a social anxiety disorder. Veterans may also experience fear in appearing anxious or acting in a way that will produce embarrassment or humiliation. These social impairment symptoms can considerably interfere with a veteran’s work life, social relationships, and normal day to day living.
A specific phobia typically involves a strong fear and avoidance of one particular type of object or situation. Unlike panic disorders and social anxiety, there is no fear of a panic attack occurring or fear of humiliation or embarrassment, rather a fear of direct exposure to the phobia causes a panic-like reaction. With a specific phobia, the fear is always out of proportion to the real danger posed by the object or situation. Typically, fear and avoidance are strong enough to interfere with a veteran’s normal routine activities, work efficiency, and social relationships. Agoraphobia is a common specific phobia that most veterans with an anxiety disorder encounter. Agoraphobia is the extreme or irrational fear of entering an open crowded place, of leaving one’s own home, or of being in a place from which escape is difficult. This can also make things difficult for the veteran and his family relations. There are also issues such as adjustment disorders that merit its own discussion.
VA Disability Ratings for Anxiety Disorders
The VA uses a rating schedule that determines compensation for mental disorders called the general rating formula for mental disorders. This disability rating schedule for mental disorders ranges from 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, and 100 percent rating. These VA ratings are based upon severity and occupational impairment. It is important to note that all mental health conditions are evaluated using the same rating criteria for service connection compensation. This means that a veteran can only be rated for mental health disability to avoid the VA’s rule against pyramiding.
Getting Help on VA Disability Claims for Service Connection
If you are a veteran or know of a veteran who is suffering from an anxiety disorder, the good news is that there are help and resources available to receive disability compensation. Click this link for a list of resources provided by the VA.