PTSD is one of the most common disabilities among veterans. When they go through traumatic events, many people have symptoms like depression, nightmares, and hypervigilance. If these symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, or they get worse instead of better, the person probably has PTSD.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is also one of the most misunderstood disabilities. The science in this area is still developing, and myths about PTSD persist. In order to obtain maximum compensation for PTSD disabilities, a VA disability attorney must not only know all the facts. An attorney must know how to present these facts in a compelling way.
PTSD is Physically in the Brain
Until fairly recently, most doctors believed that PTSD was a processing disorder. It randomly affected some veterans, while others were immune. It is definitely true that PTSD does affect processing. But now scientists know that extreme stress also expands the amygdala. This part of the brain controls emotional responses. The resulting imbalance causes the symptoms, such as nightmares and depression. In other words, PTSD is a physical effect on the body, just like a concussion or a broken bone.
Shakespeare Wrote About PTSD
Many veterans have a hard time expressing their PTSD symptoms. William Shakespeare, perhaps the greatest playwright in history, might have done this job for Veterans about four hundred years ago. In Henry IV, Part 1, Lady Percy artistically describes PTSD symptoms in Hotspur, her husband who has just returned from an overseas war.
Tell me, sweet lord, what is ‘t that takes from thee
Thy stomach, pleasure, and thy golden sleep?
Why dost thou bend thine eyes upon the earth,
And start so often when thou sit’st alone?
Why hast thou lost the fresh blood in thy cheeks
And given my treasures and my rights of thee
To thick-eyed musing and curst melancholy?
This part of her soliloquy in Act II, Scene 3 describes some of the same symptoms as the DSM-V: an exaggerated startle response (“start so often when thou sit’st alone”), loss of interest (“takes from thee thy pleasure” and “bend thine eyes upon the earth”) and negative alterations in mood (“thick-eyed musing and curst melancholy”). Other parts of her soliloquy touch on other PTSD symptoms, such as anger, solitude, and sudden outbursts against family members.
The line at the beginning is another similarity to PTSD. “What is it that takes from thee….” Like with PTSD, Shakespeare and his character started off by saying that there was some cause to these symptoms; it didn’t just happen to Hotspur at random. The same is true of many veterans today.
Veteran PTSD is Not Always Combat-Related
Any extreme stress can cause amygdala expansion. That often means violence, but it can include accidental injury or Military Sexual Trauma. Researchers are not sure if a single, extremely traumatic event causes PTSD, or if it is the cumulative effect of numerous smaller events. The stressor can also be witnessing the trauma, not necessarily being subjected to it.
PTSD does not always begin immediately after experiencing the stressor. If the criteria are not met until at least six months to appear, it is called “delayed expression.” PTSD with delayed expression can still be service connected. If you are seeking compensation, make sure you have a competent attorney able to present your argument.
Ecstasy Could Help Some Patients
Some studies indicate that MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine), the party drug also known as Ecstasy and Molly, alleviates many PTSD symptoms. Research suggests that it might provide some relief of symptoms after a single dose, with no need to take medication every day. Unfortunately, this drug is illegal in the US and there is no way to get a prescription. For the same reason, there is not as much research as there could be. This means nobody is certain whether it works or whether it can be done safely.
What we do know is that no drug can provide a “cure.” PTSD, like many brain conditions, is often permanent. Symptom management is the best option available, and all veterans will have to find some way to manage theirs.
PTSD Includes Hidden Symptoms
The brain can be very adept at concealing its own injuries. Therefore, many veterans with PTSD are not fully aware of all their symptoms. Frequency and severity of symptoms is one of the key markers in disability ratings determinations.
When seeking compensation, lay statements from friends and family members are often important. Sometimes, these people see symptoms that the veterans themselves are not aware of. They may also consider it something to be ashamed of, and underestimate their own symptoms out of a sense of pride. When that happens, it hurts their case because VA can only decide based on what they hear about.
Ask a family member to describe any change in your behavior. They might see things your brain is hiding from you and they might be able to describe things your PTSD stops you from doing or enjoying.
Contact Experienced Attorneys
No one completely understands the nature of PTSD. For a free consultation with an experienced Veterans disability lawyer, contact the Cameron Firm, P.C. at 800-861-7262 or fill out the contact box to your right. We are here to represent Veterans nationwide.
This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship.