PTSD Worse After 5 Years?

If you or a loved one is a veteran suffering from the effects of PTSD, you need know about a a study that was released.  This study may provide some warning for what you might be facing in dealing with this disability.

The study found that a spike in PTSD symptoms around the five-year mark after the veteran leaves the battlefield.  For many, that span of time results in a decrease in the severity of symptoms.  Just when the veteran thinks he or she is finally getting a handle on PTSD, those initial feelings return.

PTSD magnifying glass

More About the New Study on PTSD

Researchers studied 1,007 Dutch soldiers who were deployed to Afghanistan between March 2005 and September 2008.  They assessed the soldiers 1 month before deployment and again 1 month, 6 months, 12 months, 2 years, and 5 years after the deployment.  The purpose was to measure post-traumatic stress symptoms at the various assessment intervals to gain insight in how symptoms change over time so mental health professionals can evaluate how, when, and for how long to provide treatment to veterans who experience post-deployment PTSD.

Results: PTSD May Worsen After 5 Years

This research study identifies two important results.  First, there was a short-term symptom increase in the 6 months immediately following the end of the deployment.  That results was expected and consistent with prior studies.

However, the study surprisingly showed a long-term increase in the soldiers’ symptoms 5 years after deployment.  In other words, initial PTSD symptoms often subsided somewhat after 6 months.  However, PTSD symptoms then showed a delayed spike a number of years later.

What This Might Mean for Your Veterans Disability Claim for PTSD

As you may already know, veterans can apply for an increased rating if a service connected disability worsens.  If the results of this new study are in fact correct, this may be something for you to consider with your PTSD rating.

For instance, if you applied for veterans disability benefits a year or two after your deployment had ended, you may have been in that period of time when the symptoms were not as severe as they initially were.  Or they may have been more severe at the time you applied, but they had lessened by the time the VA evaluated your condition with a C&P exam.  That means your rating may be based on the time when your symptoms were the least severe.

If you are around that five year mark or later from the time of your last deployment and you feel that you are struggling more with your PTSD now, you should consider filing for a ratings increase.  Talk to your counselor or other mental health professional for their thoughts on how your condition has changed over the last few years and see if those changes warrant an increase.

If you are the loved one of a veteran with PTSD, be on the lookout for increases in the veteran’s difficulty concentrating, extreme sensitivity to sounds, fear, difficulty sleeping due to nightmares, and other classic signs of PTSD.  For more clues to look for, you can check out this informational page.  Just remember – If you don’t apply for a ratings increase, you will continue to receive benefits at the lower level when you may be entitled to more.

You Are Not Alone in Your Fight with PTSD

This study highlights the ongoing struggle that an estimated 11-20% of our veterans endure with PTSD for years after their service ends.  By all means, get the help you need from mental health professional to cope with this terrible disability.

But, don’t think you have to go it alone on the legal front.  If you have questions about your VA claim for PTSD benefits, feel free to contact our firm’s VA-accredited disability attorneys for a free consultation.  This article explains how a free consultations works and what you will learn.

To set up a free consultation, just call us at (770) 214-8885 or complete and submit this request form.


Travis Studdard is an attorney who focuses on representing veterans in VA disability compensation claims.  He regularly writes about issues that are important to veterans and their families.

You can subscribe to his Veterans Disability channel on YouTube.

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