Updated: Jun 14, 2021
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is described as a trauma and stress-related disorder that has received widespread attention due to its effect on war veterans. Common symptoms of PTSD are but are not limited to, depression, anxiety, and sleep issues. PTSD will also often lead to other conditions or disabilities. If you have been diagnosed with PTSD, the chances are that you are also suffering from “secondary conditions”. Some examples of these are sleep apnea, migraines, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and erectile dysfunction. PTSD is the 4th most claimed VA disability, according to the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) report of 2019-2020. If you want to receive additional VA disability compensation for each of these conditions by showing that they are correlated to your service-connected PTSD then you need to be able to recognize the symptoms of these conditions.
#1: Sleep Apnea Secondary To PTSD
Sleep apnea is usually diagnosed through a sleep study, where professionals determine whether your breathing during sleep is stopping temporarily. Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when the upper airway becomes blocked during sleep which reduces or stops airflow entirely. Veterans are four times more likely to be diagnosed with this condition compared to the general public. It is also one of the most common secondary conditions to PTSD. According to a study, as the severity of PTSD symptoms increased, so did the chances of having Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
Waking up gasping for air
If Sleep apnea is left untreated or undiagnosed it could further lead to:
Behavioral Disorders and,
#2: GERD Secondary TO PTSD
GERD happens when stomach acids flow into your esophagus, irritating its lining. GERD symptoms depend on how severe the condition is. Mild symptoms are heartburn and belching while more severe symptoms are regurgitating food, difficulty in swallowing, and significant arm or shoulder pain. Some people also wake up choking on acid or food that had regurgitated while they were sleeping. If you experience these symptoms, an examination for GERD is needed. Although, for some people, medications to treat PTSD also leads to GERD as a side effect.
#3: Migraines Secondary To PTSD
The most common types of headaches found in veterans are Migraine Headaches, Tension Headaches, and Post Traumatic Headaches. Migraine headaches are a type of headache that is described as an intense pain that is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, lightheadedness, and blurred vision. They can last from hours to even days depending on the person. According to a study, in the general public, an estimated 22 to 30% of people that suffered from migraines fulfilled PTSD criteria. If we look at the veteran population, the number is even greater, almost 50% of those that have migraines fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.
#4: Erectile Dysfunction Secondary To PTSD
For males that have PTSD, erectile dysfunction is a common secondary condition. It can affect a person’s life in many ways, other than causing stress to the veteran, it also causes relationship problems and self-esteem issues which may further intensify mental symptoms. Some people also experience erectile dysfunction because of PTSD medication. In a study, male veterans who were diagnosed with PTSD, 85% reported erectile dysfunction compared to 22% of veterans with no mental health diagnosis.
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