About 8 million U.S. adults are living with PTSD, and another 2 to 3 million have OCD. Between 11 and 30 percent of veterans will develop PTSD in their lives, making it one of the most common conditions for veterans. And somewhere between 4 and 22 percent of those living with PTSD will also develop OCD as a comorbidity.
OCD and PTSD tend to go hand in hand, especially for veterans. Read on to learn more about these two disorders, how they’re connected, and how you can get compensation for them as a veteran.
In this article about OCD and PTSD veteran’s benefits:
- What Is PTSD?
- Causes of PTSD
- Variety of Symptoms of PTSD
- Range of Severity
- What Is OCD?
- What Causes OCD from PTSD?
- Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Range of Severity
- How PTSD and OCD Are Connected
- Managing OCD
- Managing PTSD
- How to Qualify for VA Disability
- VA Disability Rating Schedules for OCD and PTSD
- Disability Compensation Rates
- Get the Compensation You Deserve
What Is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition caused by witnessing or experiencing some sort of traumatic event. Even after the event is over, you may still relive it over and over again through terrifying flashbacks. You may also find yourself going out of your way to avoid situations that remind you of the traumatic event, even to the point of disrupting your life.
It’s important to know that it’s normal to have nightmares, disturbing thoughts, or anxiety for a period of time after a traumatic event. But over time, those symptoms should fade, and your life should return to normal. If they persist for months or even years, then things cross over into the realm of PTSD.
Causes of PTSD
There can be any number of things that could cause PTSD. For civilians, a deadly car crash, the loss of a loved one, or an abusive situation can cause PTSD. Sometimes a stressful work situation, such as working in the trauma unit of a hospital, can also traumatize a person enough to cause PTSD.
PTSD is one of the most common conditions among veterans, and it’s easy to see why. Everything from the strain of basic training to the terror of combat can leave a lasting impression. Once you come home, you may find it difficult to readjust to normal civilian life.
Variety of Symptoms of PTSD
PTSD can show itself in a wide variety of forms, though generally symptoms are grouped into one of four categories. Those categories include intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.
Intrusive memories can include persistent, unwanted memories of the traumatic event you suffered. You may also have flashbacks triggered by things that remind you of the event or nightmares.
You may also find yourself trying to avoid anything that reminds you of the trauma you suffered. You might begin to rearrange your life so you don’t have contact with places, activities, or people that remind you of the traumatic event.
PTSD can cause severe negative changes in your state of mind and your mood. You may begin to feel that the world is a miserable and hopeless place, that you are worthless, or that you are detached from those you love. You may even begin to have trouble remembering things or to feel emotionally numb.
PTSD can also cause changes in your physical and emotional reactions. You may be more easily startled, or you may find that you’re always on your guard, looking out for danger. You may start engaging in self-destructive behavior, or you might find that you have sudden bursts of anger or strong feelings of shame.
Range of Severity
Everyone’s experience with PTSD will be different, depending on their personality, their history, and their experience. For some people, they may have only occasional flashbacks and difficulty sleeping. Other people may have incapacitating symptoms that leave them completely unable to live a normal, healthy life.
Your PTSD symptoms can change over time or with different triggers. You may have a more difficult time when the anniversary of the traumatic event you experienced approaches or during the holidays. You might also experience more severe symptoms when you see something that reminds you of your traumatic experience.
What Is OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a condition that is misunderstood and misrepresented a lot in our society. Many of us think of an OCD person as someone who never leaves a dish in the sink overnight or whose house is always sparkling clean. We may joke when we line up all the pencils on our desk the right way that our OCD tendencies are coming out.
In fact, obsessive-compulsive disorder is a terrifying condition in which you feel as though, if you don’t perform these specific rituals, something terrible will happen. You might turn a light on and off a number of times before you leave a room, compulsively wash your hands until they bleed, or to buy everything in sets of three. It can be crippling, preventing someone from living any semblance of a normal life.
How to get 100% TDIU for PTSD from the VA according to a veterans disability lawyer:
What Causes OCD from PTSD?
At its core, OCD is an anxiety disorder that can start as a way for someone to cope with the stresses of life. A person with OCD believes that their rituals provide safety, either for themselves or their loved ones. They may become convinced that if they touch something without washing their hands, they will contract a deadly disease or that if they leave a room without turning the light on and off seven times, one of their family members will die.
There is no specific known reason why one person may develop OCD and another may not. Scientists believe that OCD may be a result of a person’s individual biology, their genetics, or the behaviors they learned from their family. Oftentimes, OCD will develop as a symptom of another mental disorder.
Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Symptoms of OCD range from person to person, but doctors divide them into two different categories: obsession and compulsion. A person may have only one of these two sets of symptoms, or they may experience them both.
A person who is experiencing obsessive symptoms will begin to have persistent, unwanted thoughts revolving around one distressing topic or idea. They may become obsessed with a fear of dirt or contamination, an inability to tolerate uncertainty, a fear of losing control and harming themselves or others, or a fixation on a sexual or religious object.
Compulsions are behaviors an OCD person feels driven to do. Many of these are related to the obsession this person has, especially if it’s a fear-based obsession. They may feel compelled to wash or clean things, count things, follow a rigid routine, or perform certain rituals.
Range of Severity
As with PTSD, OCD can range in its severity. Someone who is experiencing fewer symptoms at the time may feel compelled to arrange their canned food so the labels all face the same way or avoid shaking hands with people. But OCD can also become so severe that a person cannot conduct any parts of a normal, healthy life without crippling terror and involved rituals.
OCD, like PTSD, can range in severity over time. Perhaps you’re going through a less stressful time in your life, and you don’t feel as compelled to maintain as many of your rituals. But then work gets stressful, you have a fight with your partner, or money gets tight and you feel you have to follow your old routines again to keep things from getting worse.
How PTSD and OCD Are Connected
Oftentimes, people who have PTSD may find that they’re also struggling with OCD. PTSD is a condition that causes you to be afraid all the time that something terrible is going to happen. In order to prevent that awful thing from coming to reality, you may start to practice obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
OCD stems from a person’s desire to control the terrifying things that can happen in life. As a person with PTSD, you know first-hand just how terrifying those things can be. You begin to turn lights on and off or count things or wash your hands to the point of bleeding because you’ll do anything it takes to prevent the horrifying thing you experienced from happening again.
Psychotherapy is an important part of managing OCD. The more a person can begin to break down the reasons behind their compulsions, they more they can see the logical errors behind their fear. They can learn new, healthier coping mechanisms and develop thinking patterns that remind them to do a reality check whenever they start to feel anxious.
There are also some medications that can help treat OCD. Medications designed to reduce depression can help an OCD person to gain better control of their internal emotional life. There are also some intensive outpatient and residential treatment programs that can help people with more severe cases of OCD regain control of their life.
Psychotherapy is also crucial for those experiencing PTSD. Oftentimes, many of the symptoms associated with PTSD are related to the fact that the person hasn’t yet come to terms with the trauma they experienced. Therapy can help a person work through that trauma and find healthy coping mechanisms to process it in their daily lives.
Medications may also be helpful for people suffering from PTSD. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can reduce some of the feelings of numbness or terror. And support from loved ones can help a person with PTSD find their way back to a normal, healthy life free of daily terror.
Here are some tips on your C&P exam from one of our VA disability lawyers.
How to Qualify for VA Disability
If you’re a veteran living with OCD and/or PTSD, you may qualify for VA disability compensation. In order to qualify, you must meet three requirements. You must have an official diagnosis of your condition, you must be able to point to an event in your service record that caused your condition, and you must have a medical opinion connecting the two.
Your diagnosis for OCD and/or PTSD must come from a VA-approved physician, though in most cases, your family doctor will work fine for this purpose. Almost any exposure to combat or other significantly stressful situation will serve to establish a service connection, though proving the event happened may be tricky. And then your doctor will simply need to write an opinion stating that your condition(s) were at least as likely as not caused by your service.
VA Disability Rating Schedules for OCD and PTSD
Once you’ve been approved for VA disability, your conditions will be rated on an established schedule. These ratings are expressed as percentages and are meant to reflect how much the condition impacts your ability to live a normal, happy life. The VA will use your disability rating to determine how much compensation you will receive each month, among other things.
The VA rates PTSD and OCD on one of five levels: 10 percent, 30 percent, 50 percent, 70 percent, and 100 percent. In order to determine your disability rating the VA will look at your overall mental state and ability to function. You may also be able to get a combined rating for both your PTSD and your OCD.
Disability Compensation Rates
The VA will use your disability rating, in combination with some other factors, to determine how much money you will receive each month. For instance, if you have a 10 percent rating, you will receive $152.64 per month. For ratings of 30 percent and higher, the VA will consider whether you have family members who financially depend on you.
Get the Compensation You Deserve
If you’re struggling with OCD and PTSD, you may be entitled to compensation from the VA. Both of these conditions can be debilitating, but with proper care, you could find your way back to a normal, healthy life. Talk to your doctor today about getting a diagnosis and start the process of getting your life back.
If you’d like help filing or appealing your disability compensation claim, get in touch with us at Woods and Woods, LLC. We fight for veterans every day, and you don’t pay unless we win. Contact us today to start getting the compensation you deserve.The VA’s official site for PTSD.
Medical connections between PTSD and OCD.