Veterans Disability Info Blog

Types of Depression Disorders Plaguing Veterans

Veterans encounter a distinct set of challenges and situations, such as deployment, combat, and the process of reintegrating into civilian life after military service, which can contribute to experiences of trauma. These stressors are found to have a lasting impact on the mental health and well-being of veterans. Veterans suffering from mental illness can experience symptoms that lead to the risk of economic insecurity, homelessness, and risk of suicide, as outlined by National Veterans Homeless Support (NVHS). Over one in four veterans struggles with a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety

Depression Has Various Causes in the Military 

The experiences that a veteran goes through during active service, particularly during combat, can lead to a variety of mental health issues, depression included. The National Library of Medicine found that depression is responsible for 9% of all ambulatory military health network appointments. The military can serve as a cause of depression for the following reasons: 

  • The stressors associated with combat
  • Time away from relatives and loved ones
  • The experience of being in harm’s way
  • The experience of witnessing others in harm’s way

These experiences contribute to an increased risk of depression for active-duty personnel and veterans alike. 

Depression in Veterans Ranges from Major or Minor 

The VA provides medical coverage for any service-connected medical or mental health condition that has a current diagnosis, even if you are rated at 0 on a scale of 0 to 100 percent. For ratings at 10 percent or higher, veterans are eligible to receive tax-free compensation payments to cover their decrease in earnings due to their disability. If you have minor depression characterized by occasional feelings of depression, worthlessness, and other sensations, but they do not get in the way of your work, then you may qualify for free mental health coverage, but may only be eligible for a non-compensable rating (i.e. 0 percent or maybe, 10 percent). 

When you have major depression, it impacts every facet of your life, both professional and personal. You are less able to engage in everyday tasks, activities, and relationships on a personal level due to your symptoms. On a professional level, the symptoms of depression that impact your ability to concentrate and be effective reduce your capacity to engage in regular gainful employment. While you may be able to work sometimes, when symptoms of depression and the fear of them worsening leads to an inability to work, the potential to collect disability compensation also increases. 

Symptoms of major depression include: 

  • A depressed and down-feeling mood
  • The loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed 
  • Change in appetite resulting in weight loss or weight gain
  • Feelings of being worthless 
  • A decreased ability to concentrate 
  • Thoughts of suicide 
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep 

When symptoms of your major depression begin to get in the way of everyday activities and work, then your depression VA rating increases, leading to eligibility for greater tax-free VA compensation payment amounts.   Keep in mind that for veterans who experience suicidal ideations, the case law indicates that VA should assign a rating of no less than 70 percent for a service-connected mental health disorder.

Depression is Often Linked to Anxiety and Substance Use 

The VA recognizes a variety of mental health conditions as disabilities, providing medical coverage and, as appropriate, VA disability compensation. Research has found that alcohol and drug use among veterans to provide stress relief or to relieve difficulty with social situations is common. This is often referred to as self-medicating.  If you or a loved one is a veteran struggling with depression and substance use, help is available from your local VA health center, free of charge. Even if you have a pending VA disability claim for depression, you are eligible to receive care free of charge from a VA center, highlighting the importance of seeking out help as soon as you realize there may be a problem. The VA will not service connect substance abuse disorders as a primary condition.  However, if your substance misuse disorder develops as a result of a service-connected condition, then VA will service-connected the substance misuse disorder.

You File Your Own Initial VA Disability Application, Although Free Help is Available

Your initial VA disability claim is free to file, and you are able to receive free assistance from your local VA center, online or over the phone from the VA, as well as through a variety of resources you can find on the VA website. Help is also available through a veterans service organization, including your State’s local Department of Veterans Services and perhaps your local county service officer.  Companies offering to provide you with assistance with initial new claims for a fee or percentage of your future benefits are oftentimes predatory and could be trying to scam you out of the benefits you have earned and are entitled to. Nobody should be charging you to file a new, initial claim.  It is only permissible for fees to be charged after an initial decision when the case can be appealed.

The best way to file your initial application is with the assistance of the VA or a service officer. It is also helpful to see your own private medical provider and to include as much additional information as possible for the VA when they are considering your initial claim. This includes evidence outlining how the symptoms of your depression, whatever type it may be, impacts your ability to maintain gainful employment, which is the primary factor used by the VA in determining your depression VA rating, and the amount you may qualify for in tax-free VA disability payments. 

Keeping a journal of how the symptoms of your depression impact you can be a valuable source of evidence for the medical professional assessing your situation. The VA will also consider statements from family, friends, coworkers, and bosses who have witnessed the symptoms of your depression and its impact on your personal and professional life. Fellow service members who may have witnessed the incidents that led to your depression or underlying primary condition can also be of use with your application. 

If you have applied for a depression VA rating and been denied, a disabled veteran lawyer from our firm can help you through every step of the process. 

Connect with a VA Disability Lawyer for Help with an Appeal For Your Depression VA Rating

To discuss how we can help you collect the compensation you deserve through an accurate and complete depression VA rating, give us a call at 888-878-9350 or visit our site to schedule your free initial consultation.

We are Here to Help

If you are having trouble obtaining benefits, contact us online or at 888.878.9350 to discuss your case.