It's not uncommon for soldiers who spend time in combat to return from military duty with some type of illness or medical condition. Many have suffered injuries while deployed.  Both mild traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder are known as "signature wounds" of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Statistics show that four out of 10 veterans who experienced a mild TBI also suffer from PTSD.

Many of the symptoms of these two conditions overlap, including fatigue, insomnia, and anxiety which can cause doctors to treat them in similar ways. However, the two are quite different disorders and many patients diagnosed with PTSD actually may be presenting symptoms of a TBI.

A  TBI is a neurological disorder caused when there's trauma to the brain and normal function is disrupted by a blow to the head, the brain moving back and forth within the skull, or when an object penetrates the skull. PTSD, on the other hand, is a mental disorder caused by witnessing or being involved in a life-changing, traumatic incident.

When someone experiences a TBI and also suffers from PTSD, it can be challenging for doctors to know which disorder is causing the symptoms. While a blow to the head doesn't necessarily cause PTSD, the risk is more significant for those individuals who suffer a TBI to develop PTSD. Although PTSD and TBI share like symptoms, they are different conditions with different treatment protocols. Doctors can sometimes make diagnostic errors by confusing the symptoms of these two disorders. A misdiagnosis can lead to treatment that may not only be ineffective, but may even make a veteran’s condition worse. For example, physicians commonly prescribe anti-depressants or anti-psychotic drugs for treatment of PTSD.  But since these medicines may repress an already damaged brain, these medicines can worsen the symptoms of TBI. If you are coping with PTSD, be sure your doctor knows if you have also been involved in an incident that may have caused a TBI.

At Cuddigan Law we understand that many veterans return home suffering from a medical condition, including PTSD or a TBI, or may develop symptoms later. If your medical condition is interfering with your ability to live a healthy life, as accredited VA attorneys we can help you obtain the disability benefits you need to care for yourself and your loved ones. Call or email us for a free evaluation of your specific situation.

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