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Moderator, you might want to Pin this somewhere, as this seems to be a recurring trend. I have given out this information to others, but I will post it here so that others can find it rather than searching through the forum. First and foremost, claiming and getting sleep apnea secondary to PTSD or Mental disorder is not easy. I have personally seen more lost than won, however, it can be obtained and I myself have personally received it. If you had sleep apnea diagnosed while in active duty, it is usually a slam dunk........for the rest of those trying to get it, it could require a lot of work. I suggest trying to get it both direct and secondary service connected. It is easier to get sleep apnea as a direct service connection obviously, however, most Veterans do not get it diagnosed while in service. Best way to get that resolved is through buddy statements. I suggest getting 3-4 (I personally had 7-8) or more. Do not have them only say that they saw you snoring.......that is great and all, but that is not a symptom of sleep apnea.......it is incidental. They would need to say that they saw you gasping for air, choking, etc. Preferably roommates. If you were deployed, it would be easy to have many people saying that they saw/heard this as you would have more than likely been in an open bay setting at some point in time. You can also have your spouse write up a statement. This all needs to be during active duty periods of times and dates need to be included. M21-1 reference III.iii.2.E.2.b "Types of Evidence VA May Use To Supplement or as a Substitute for STRs" allows for buddy statements to act as STRs for medical evidence.........if they are certified "buddy" statements or affidavits.............having them written on VA Form 21-4138 solves this issue as it has the appropriate verbiage written near the bottom. Under M21-1 reference III.iii.1.B.7.a and 38 CFR 3.200, it meets the certification criteria..........problem solved. From my experience, getting all of the buddy statements needed can take longer than you originally anticipate....plan ahead. Now, for secondary criteria. Have you ever been diagnosed with alcohol abuse (it is frequently written as "ETOH")? If so, has it been attributed to your mental disorder or did it exist prior to that and is it considered willful? If you have been diagnosed with alcohol abuse, and it is attributable to your mental disorder, guess what, alcohol consumption is attributable to sleep apnea. would suggest that you start doing your own academic research. You might be able to locate peer-reviewed academic journal articles (those are the types of articles that you want to submit) through https://www.researchgate.net/. If not, another alternative is using a college database to search academic journals through. Ah, but you need to be a college student to use the database to search academic journals through. One might make an argument that you could register for classes at a local community college (you can even register online nowadays without even stepping foot on campus) and even register for "late start" classes, and have access to the aforementioned database immediately (hint hint, look in the academic journal Chest); one could easily find within a 60 minute search at least 5 appropriate and recent journal articles clearly establishing a link between specific mental disorders and sleep apnea; there is a clear link between PTSD, anxiety disorders, depression, and especially schizophrenia. One might make an argument that you could simply then disenroll from the classes that you enrolled in by the date specified in order to get a full refund, thereby being charged nothing. Save the academic journal articles as pdf files, and create a work cited page (bibliography) for them in APA format (google is your friend.) You now have a choice........... Submit your claim with the buddy statements, mental health notes from a private provider, and evidence that you have and go with either a VA exam or vendor exam (whichever is given) or you can get an IME and IMO from private providers. If go the latter route, I would schedule one with a sleep specialist, why, because sleep apnea is their specialty. Pulmonologists also fall within this scope as well, though I suspect that you will have better luck finding a sleep specialist believing there to be a link between mental disorders and sleep apnea. You will get a Sleep Apnea DBQ and an IMO. Make sure that you have your C - File first as an examiner is required to have access to it and state that they have seen it on the DBQ for it to acceptable proof to the VA. I would also get one from your psychologists/psychiatrist (Make sure that they are a psychiatrist or a psychologist.....if a psychologist, they need to be PsyD or Ph.D., or under the observation of a Ph.D.). Make sure before you solicit those medical opinions, that you acquire "buddy statements" from 3-4 (or even more) people with whom you served. Roommates would be best, or people who slept in close proximity to you.........again, this is only if you believe that sleep apnea developed while you were in Active Duty service. Make sure that they are written on VA Form 21-4138. Make sure they say that they witnessed clear symptoms of sleep apnea i.e. gasping for air, choking sounds, moments where they visibly or auditorily could determine that you ceased breathing etc. Remember, you will want the sleep specialist and the psych professional to have your academic journal articles and buddy statements. Once you have all of them, solicit your medical opinions from the two aforementioned providers. Ideally, you would love for the IMOs to say that they believe that you could be both direct service connected for sleep apnea or secondary due to mental disorder, possibly even say that the mental disorder and sleep apnea aggravate one another (which there is medical evidence to support.) If you opt to go the route of getting the private IMO and IME, you will obviously submit those with your claim, and all medical records from private providers pertinent to sleep apnea and your mental health treatment, buddy statements, academic journal articles, and a nicely written statement written by yourself on a VA Form 21-4138 talking about the issue at hand and summarizing everything concisely. Mention everything that you are providing that you wont to be considered for the claim, and when the issue first manifested.
Hello everyone, It has been a while but I finally received my C&P examination for mental health. Currently am 50% for Major Depression, seeking 70%. I went to my examination in stained sweats, faded shirt, flip flops, unshaven, and hair frizzy and not brushed. For some reason, I believe my C&P examiner was wishing I did not come so she could go to lunch early based on her reaction to my arrival and her BSing with the receptionist prior. Anyway, I feel angry after reading her assessment and would like to know what you all think. I think she checked the box for 30% which is a decrease but all the symptoms are 70% looking. It feels really bad she is trying to make me out to be a liar when she doesn't know how I really feel. I have been suicidal, I have made attempts, I have researched the best methods, made plans, etc. The closest I have come is purchasing roper, tying it in a noose, and testing out a bar at work to see if it could support me in hanging myself. But I have really been feeling like crap and feel I have to fight really hard to not let my thoughts become the truth. All things she did not ask. What do you think will happen based on the below exam results? I thank you for your time and responses. CaliBay Mental Disorders (other than PTSD and Eating Disorders) Disability Benefits Questionnaire Is this DBQ being completed in conjunction with a VA 21-2507, C&P Examination Request? [X] Yes [ ] No SECTION I: - - - - - - - - - - 1. Diagnosis - - - - - - - - - - - - a. Does the Veteran now have or has he/she ever been diagnosed with a mental disorder? [X] Yes [ ] No ICD code: F33.2 If the Veteran currently has one or more mental disorders that conform to DSM-5 criteria, provide all diagnoses: Mental Disorder Diagnosis #1: Major Depressive Disorder, severe, recurrent ICD code: F33.2 Mental Disorder Diagnosis #2: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, with panic attacks ICD code: F41.1 b. Medical diagnoses relevant to the understanding or management of the Mental Health Disorder (to include TBI): severe sleep apnea 2. Differentiation of symptoms - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - a. Does the Veteran have more than one mental disorder diagnosed? [X] Yes [ ] No b. Is it possible to differentiate what symptom(s) is/are attributable to each diagnosis? [X] Yes [ ] No [ ] Not applicable (N/A) If yes, list which symptoms are attributable to each diagnosis and discuss whether there is any clinical association between these diagnoses Depression - depressed mood, not feeling pain, poor motivation, nightmares, few friends, feel worthless and helpless. Anxiety: doesn't like to leave his house, uncomfortable in crowds, some paranoia shakes c. Does the Veteran have a diagnosed traumatic brain injury (TBI)? [ ] Yes [X] No [ ] Not shown in records reviewed 3. Occupational and social impairment - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - a. Which of the following best summarizes the Veteran's level of occupational and social impairment with regards to all mental diagnoses? (Check only one) [X] Occupational and social impairment with occasional decrease in work efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform occupational tasks, although generally functioning satisfactorily, with normal routine behavior, self-care, and conversation b. For the indicated level of occupational and social impairment, is it possible to differentiate what portion of the occupational and social impairment indicated above is caused by each mental disorder? [ ] Yes [X] No [ ] No other mental disorder has been diagnosed If no, provide a reason that it is not possible to differentiate what portion of the indicated level of occupational and social impairment is attributable to each diagnosis: symptoms of GAD and MDD overlap and it is nearly impossible to differentiate between disorders. c. If a diagnosis of TBI exists, is it possible to differentiate what portion of the occupational and social impairment indicated above is caused by the TBI? [ ] Yes [ ] No [X] No diagnosis of TBI SECTION II: - - - - - - - - - - - Clinical Findings: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1. Evidence Review - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Evidence reviewed (check all that apply): [X] VA e-folder (VBMS or Virtual VA) [X] CPRS 2. History - - - - - - - - - - a. Relevant Social/Marital/Family history (pre-military, military, and post-military): The veteran has been married for 25 years, and they have 4 children ages 17, 12, and 7. His father lives at their home, but he is self-sufficient and assists caring for the children. His spouse works at Kohls. b. Relevant Occupational and Educational history (pre-military, military, and post-military): He works for the Federal Government as Transportation Specialist at the GS-11 pay grade. He stated that his supervisor has made a verbal accommodation for his mental disabilities to let him come and go as he pleases including arriving late and leaving early for work for appointments. He states he does not know exactly what he does at work but feels like a government worker that is unqualified for his position and got lucky to obtain his current job. He states he answers email correspondence all day and surfs the Internet. He stated that his duties are not really defined and much of his job requires little effort mentally or physically. He creates spreadsheets in Excel and analyzes financial data for travel. He works from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. He stated that he has used his all of his vacation and sick time because of his disability. He was out of work on FMLA for three months to receive mental health care and has returned in May 2017 with difficulty adjusting. c. Relevant Mental Health history, to include prescribed medications and family mental health (pre-military, military, and post-military): He stated that he was feeling better during for two months in a 12-month period. Since he returned to work, his depression has increased and has frequent panic on a daily basis. He stated that he feels paranoid that someone is out to get him. He feels like he is worthless at work even though his managers have never told him his performance is poor. He does not recall periods of remission and stated that he only remembers all the bad things that have happened to him. He uses a CPAP machine but states he rips it off his face every night due to nightmares. He has always had nightmares of when his daughter passed away and escorting human remains off of military cargo planes. He estimates waking up every hour to check on his children to see if they are still alive. He self-admitted to a Mental Health Hospital for 3 months. He was suicidal and very depressed. He has not seen a Therapist but he has spoken to his Psychiatrist. Nightmares: never decreased, nightly or every other night. His nightmares are of the same theme. No exercise Medical records review: DBQ from private provider Statement from veteran Treatment records from Private Hospital Treatment records from Mental Hospital These records are consistent with a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Many medications have been tried. He is at low risk of suicide at this point. Current Medication: Wellbutrin Abilify Prozac d. Relevant Legal and Behavioral history (pre-military, military, and post-military): None e. Relevant Substance abuse history (pre-military, military, and post-military): He drinks occasionally and states he is a “light weight” in consuming alcoholic beverages. Sometimes he inhales CO2 from whip cream to get a temporary high. f. Other, if any: No response provided. 3. Symptoms - - - - - - - - - - - For VA rating purposes, check all symptoms that actively apply to the Veteran's diagnoses: [X] Depressed mood [X] Anxiety [X] Chronic sleep impairment [X] Flattened affect [X] Disturbances of motivation and mood [X] Suicidal ideation 4. Behavioral observations - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - No response provided. 5. Other symptoms - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Does the Veteran have any other symptoms attributable to mental disorders that are not listed above? [ ] Yes [X] No 6. Competency - - - - - - - - - - - - - Is the Veteran capable of managing his or her financial affairs? [X] Yes [ ] No 7. Remarks (including any testing results), if any: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - This 45-year-old veteran still struggles with depression and anxiety. I cannot diagnose him with PTSD because it appears to be secondary to MDD. He has not seeked therapy other than admitting himself to a Mental Health Facility. The veteran has been advised to get help for his symptoms and he has not complied. There doesn't appear to be any changes in his mental health status. The fact that this veteran continues to work without incident suggests that he may be functioning better than what he is showing. I recommend that this veteran receives intensive therapy and be re-evaluated after a year of consistent treatment.