Researchers and scientists know there's a direct relationship between heart disease and depression. Approximately 25 percent of patients with cardiac problems suffer from depression.  Conversely, patients with depression often develop some type of heart disease. Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports over 17 million people die of heart disease each year, and 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression.

man_with_depressionVeterans also have a relationship between heart disease and depression.

According to a 2013 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 13,000 veterans were diagnosed with coronary heart disease, stroke, angina, or a heart attack—and 22 percent of them were also diagnosed with depression.

Often, physical injuries suffered during active military duty cause secondary conditions, including psychological illnesses. One of those is depression.

A veteran diagnosed with some type of serious heart condition, for instance, may then suffer stress and worry that he may experience a heart attack or stroke. This stress might cause clinical depression.

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes depression as a serious, ratable condition, and a veteran may be able to file a claim seeking compensation for this type of secondary psychological condition. If you’ve suffered a service-connected heart problem and believe you’re suffering depression because of it, it’s beneficial to contact an experienced VA disability lawyer to help file your claim.

Types of Heart Conditions

For many veterans who suffer from heart disease—often ischemic heart disease—their conditions are linked to Agent Orange exposure. Heart failure is the most common result of ischemic heart disease. However, there are other types of heart diseases, including:

  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Endocarditis
  • Hypertension
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Valvular heart disease

Depression and Qualifying for Benefits

Under the Psychological Rating System—Code 9434, the VA cites depressive disorder, also referred to as clinical depression. A veteran can claim depression as a secondary condition if he or she can prove that it was caused by a service-connected heart condition.

Requirements to qualify for benefits for depression include:

  • A veteran must be diagnosed with at least two major episodes of depression, each lasting two or more weeks.
  • A veteran must present symptoms that seriously impair his or her ability to function and manage a normal daily routine. These symptoms might include:
    • Overall feelings of fatigue; reduced energy
    • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities she once enjoyed
    • Overall feelings of sadness during the day
    • Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
    • Weight loss and/or decreased appetite
    • Frequent thoughts about death

Connecting Depression With Heart Disease

To prove your depression is connected to service-connected heart problems, a doctor or physician must establish that connection by:

  • Diagnosing you with depression—either major depressive disorder or dysthymic disorder
  • Providing evidence your heart condition likely caused your depression

Additionally, you must provide documentation, reports, tests results, and medical evidence that show “causation” between the heart disease and your diagnosis of depression. It’s beneficial to your claim if your doctor writes a letter of opinion that links your diagnosis of depression with your heart problems.

Contact Cuddigan Law

If you’re a veteran who is suffering from depression due to a heart problem and would like to submit an application for depression as a secondary condition, call Cuddigan Law. Our attorneys will examine your case, develop the best strategy, and work with you to submit your claim to increase your chances of receiving disability benefits. Click the Live Chat button for more assistance.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska