Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by regular and unpredictable panic attacks. Panic attacks are occurrences in which you feel intense and overwhelming fear or terror without any immediate cause or reason to be afraid. Most troubling of all, they may be triggered at any time or place, arrive frequently or infrequently, may cause individuals to freeze or lock up, and cause intense physical symptoms.
Nowadays, anxiety disorders like panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are recognized as significant conditions experienced by veterans due to the potential stress and mental duress which many veterans are subject to. Because of the similar symptoms and root causes of anxiety disorders, they are bound together under § 4.130 of VA’s schedule of ratings and rated under VA’s general rating formula for mental disorders.
Symptoms of Panic Attacks
When panic attacks occur, they happen suddenly, with little to no warning. They do not last too long, with symptoms peaking within minutes, but they are frightening enough in themselves, and often cause sufferers to change their habits, avoid certain environments, activities, or people, and otherwise try to avoid having another panic attack. Panic attacks may be so frightening that the thought of having one is enough to trigger a new one.
When you are having a panic attack, you will experience at least a handful of these symptoms:
- Strong sense of impending doom or danger
- Fear of losing control or death
- Rapid, pounding heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
- Hot flashes
- Abdominal cramps
- Chest pain
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
- Numbness or tingling sensation
- Feeling of unreality or detachment
VA Disability Benefits
As mentioned above, panic disorder is rated by VA under its general rating formula for mental health disorders. Ratings for mental health disorders judge the severity of conditions based on their impairment to veterans’ social lives and capacity to work.
Veterans must be able to prove a service connection for their panic disorder to be awarded a rating. This means you must have an active diagnosis for panic disorder, an in-service injury, incident, or event(s) which can be traced to your condition, and the statement of a medical professional establishing a nexus between the condition and your service.
Possible ratings are as follows:
- 100% rating: the condition causes total occupational and social impairment, with symptoms like gross impairment to thought processes or communication, inappropriate behavior, delusions or hallucinations, being a danger to oneself or others, and intermittent inability to perform basic activities
- 70% rating: the condition causes severe social and occupational impairment with deficiencies in all areas, including family relations, work, school, judgment, thinking, and mood; suicidal ideation; illogical, obscure, or irrelevant speech; near-continuous panic or depression
- 50% rating: the conditions causes serious social and occupational impairment with reduced reliability and productivity; symptoms include a flattened affect, circumstantial, circumlocutory, or stereotyped speech, regular panic attacks, and impaired judgment and comprehension
- 30% rating: the conditions causes social and occupational impairment with occasional decreases in work efficiency; symptoms generally include depression, anxiety, suspiciousness, pain attacks, trouble sleeping, and mild memory loss
- 10% rating: the condition only harms occupational functionality during periods of high stress; symptoms cause some social and occupational dysfunction and can be controlled by continuous medication
- 0% rating: the condition is not severe enough to interfere with social and occupational functioning or to require continuous medication
Assistance with your claim
Now more than ever, more benefits are available through VA to assist veterans suffering from mental disorders, including panic disorder. If you suffer from panic disorder or any other mental disorder that you believe can be traced back to your time in service, don’t hesitate to build a claim for VA benefits now. To get started on your claim or to strengthen your appeal, contact us online or at 844-VET-LAWS now.