Frequently Asked Questions About PTSD in Veterans

Health Writer
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What is PTSD?

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur as a result of experiencing a traumatic event or situation, such as combat. Symptoms can include nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, avoiding places or situations which could remind you of the event, and feeling tense or easily startled. Severe symptoms can interfere with the ability to function or perform daily tasks.

How many veterans have PTSD?

According to the U.S. Army, 3 to 6 percent of service members who have not been deployed develop PTSD. In those that have been deployed to combat zones, anywhere from 5 to 25 percent develop PTSD. Studies have shown that about 1 in 3 soldiers who were deployed in Vietnam developed PTSD at some time in their life.

Do veterans with PTSD always seek treatment?

Not all soldiers seek treatment for PTSD. Some may have another medical condition, on top of the PTSD, which is taking precedence in medical care or masking symptoms. Sometimes PTSD symptoms do not show up for years. Veterans may also feel ashamed of their symptoms and be reluctant to reach out for help.

How is PTSD diagnosed?

A psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health provider can diagnose PTSD. The health provider will talk with you about your symptoms. In order to be diagnosed you must have experienced all of the following for at least one month: at least one recurring symptom; at least three avoidance symptoms; at least two hyperarousal symptoms (such as being easily startled)

What services does the VA provide for veterans with PTSD?

The VA provides many different services for veterans and families of those suffering from military-related issues, including various therapies, classes, counseling and medications. What services you are eligible for and require would be based on your individual situation.

Can I get disability for PTSD through the VA?

Some veterans do receive disability benefits through the VA based on their PTSD. However, PTSD itself does not automatically qualify you for disability benefits. If you believe you are disabled, you should work with a VA service representative to make sure you have the documentation you need to apply for benefits.