Sleep Apnea Secondary to PTSD

Many Veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD are also facing symptoms related to sleep apnea. This has led to Veterans questioning the link between PTSD and sleep apnea. More specifically, how likely is it for a Veteran with PTSD to display symptoms associated with sleep apnea. Can your PTSD lead sleep apnea? The short answer: yes. PTSD can lead to sleep apnea. From a VA disability standpoint, this means a Veteran could develop sleep apnea secondary to PTSD and would therefore be entitled to compensation.

What is Sleep Apnea?

One of the most common sleep disorders for Veterans is obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when an individual stops breathing during sleep. This can last for either a few seconds or for several minutes. Many symptoms associated with sleep apnea include fatigue, slow reflexes, and problems related to the heart. If you are a Veteran with PTSD and suffer from sleep apnea, you should get a service connection for sleep apnea secondary to PTSD as soon as possible.

What is a Secondary Service Connection?

Secondary service connection means that a Veteran suffers from secondary illnesses related to their primary disability. Most mental and physical conditions can lead to other disabilities that are compensable by the VA. For example, let’s say a Veteran is suffering from diabetes related to Agent Orange. The Veteran is entitled to disability compensation for diabetes. However, the Veteran may also suffer from neuropathy, which is pain and nerve damage typically caused by diabetes. Because the diabetes is causing neuropathy, the Veteran should be entitled to compensation for that as well.

Now, if a Veteran has been diagnosed with PTSD and are also displaying symptoms of sleep apnea, they could receive disability compensation for both PTSD and sleep apnea. To receive compensation, the Veteran would need to prove service connection for sleep apnea secondary to PTSD.

Sleep Apnea Secondary to PTSD

An increasing number of scientific studies show that sleep apnea and PTSD are co-morbid conditions. One study compared the records of 4 million Veteran’s suffering from PTSD and those not suffering from PTSD to find a connection between PTSD and sleep apnea. They found an incredible statistical difference. Approximately 11.85% of individuals suffering from PTSD also had sleep apnea. A relatively large difference when you compare it to the 4.74% of individuals with sleep apnea who do not have PTSD. So, according to the study, individuals with PTSD are 2.7 times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than those without PTSD. This means Veterans are at a higher risk of having sleep apnea secondary to PTSD.

Other studies also came to the same conclusion. Researchers at Walter Reed Army medical center looked at sleep problems among 80 OIF/OEF Veterans returning from combat who were diagnosed with PTSD.  Almost all of them said they had problems sleeping and almost two thirds suffered from sleep apnea. This is substantial when compared to the American frequency of 20% of men and 9% of women who have had sleep apnea at some time in their life.

Getting Service Connected

If you have been denied disability benefits for sleep apnea secondary to PTSD, our team of Veteran attorneys can help. We have helped thousands of Veterans successfully appeal unfavorable VA decisions, and we are dedicated to helping Veterans get the disability compensation they deserve. Contact Berry Law today to schedule a free case evaluation and take the next step in your fight for disability benefits.