Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological response to witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. The public tends to associate PTSD with car accidents and veterans, but the condition can happen to anyone who experiences intense trauma. This could include a retail employee held at gunpoint by a burglar, or a schoolteacher who intervenes in a fight between two students. Statistics indicate that approximately eight percent of the entire population will experience the effects of PTSD at some point. Medical professionals are unsure why some people experience PTSD and others do not.
However, those who suffer from PTSD may be unable to function normally because PTSD can make it difficult for someone to continue living as they did before the traumatic event. PTSD may also cause the victim’s personality to change. Anyone who suffers an intensely unpleasant or horrifying experience, such as stopping at the scene of a tragic car accident, may suffer from PTSD. It should be noted that PTSD does not discriminate and affects children and adults from all backgrounds.
What are Common Signs of PTSD?
The indicators of PTSD vary from by person since PTSD is a disorder that is different in every case. Just as every trauma is one-of-a-kind, so is the way that an individual responds to it. PTSD victims may constantly replay the traumatic event in their head, which can lead to difficulty sleeping, concentrating, eating, or getting along with others. Insomnia is a recurrent issue among PTSD sufferers, which inevitably leads to sleep deprivation, memory loss, and poor judgment.
Victims with PTSD may not be able to return to where the trauma occurred, even after the site is completely safe. In many situations, PTSD sufferers also experience depression and mood swings; yet, these mood swings run the gamut and cannot be predicted. One PTSD sufferer may break down in tears while another may become hostile and angry. Another could withdraw and push away loved ones who try to help.
In certain situations, a person who experiences PTSD and also has injuries because of the trauma may feel more intense pain than someone without PTSD. For instance, someone who suffered a broken arm during a construction accident may complain that the pain is excruciating weeks later, even though the arm has partially healed. Professionals who study PTSD feel that it can amplify discomfort, making it harder for the victim to feel relaxed. Sometimes, PTSD sufferers turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drug or alcohol abuse, to deal with their pain. Their choice to subdue PTSD with substances or poorly conceived behaviors can cause more damage.
How is PTSD Diagnosed?
PTSD cannot be self-identified, especially if an employee is making a Workers’ Compensation claim. Only a trained medical professional can verify if a patient has PTSD. A diagnosis involves a thorough physical and mental evaluation, followed by a recommended course of treatment. Ironically, many people who have PTSD are reluctant to be evaluated because it is considered a mental illness and therefore has a negative stigma attached. This is an unfortunate side effect of living in a society that only has begun to accept that mental health is just as important as physical health. On the positive side, awareness is helping take the stigma away from being diagnosed with PTSD and other mental health conditions.
What Does PTSD Treatment Look Like?
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for PTSD because every sufferer has different responses. Nevertheless, regular psychological therapy visits tend to be prescribed for PTSD victims. Other potential treatments may involve prescription medications for co-existing conditions, such as depression or manic-depressive states. Some PTSD patients also turn to more alternative forms of relief, such as lifestyle and nutritional changes.
PTSD can be managed, but it may take a very long time. For some victims, the signs and symptoms of PTSD never go away. For others, PTSD can be overcome with time, effort, and willingness to get better. As with all medical conditions, the overarching goal is to help the person with PTSD get back to a normal, healthy routine.
How Does PTSD Affect People at Work?
The topic of PTSD in the workplace has come to the forefront in recent years. PTSD poses a real concern for people who have been through a traumatic job-related event, and the event does not have to be something the employee experienced to cause PTSD. Watching a co-worker get hurt or killed can trigger PTSD. As a result of PTSD, a worker may be unable to walk back into the workplace where the trauma occurred. Being in the same place may generate flashbacks and intense emotions, leaving the employee unable to do any duties. The worker with undiagnosed PTSD may start to call out or stop coming to work altogether. Chronic absenteeism is a common outcome of PTSD in employees.
Can Employees Receive Workers’ Compensation for PTSD After an Accident?
Obtaining Workers’ Compensation benefits involving PTSD can be notoriously tricky, particularly if PTSD is the main reason for the claim. Many insurance providers will deny claims that only involve mental diagnoses. For that reason, it is much easier for someone to receive Workers’ Compensation for PTSD that is related to a physical injury. Those types of claims may be referred to as mental-physical claims.
However, it should be mentioned that Workers’ Compensation may still be challenging, even with a mental-physical claim. Workers’ Compensation adjusters who evaluate claims know that one of the side effects of having PTSD can be the inability to follow through with expectations. Consequently, many PTSD sufferers do not go to their scheduled appointments, including physical therapy and occupational therapy sessions, follow-up doctor’s appointments, or even surgeries. PTSD victims may resist taking their prescription medications and therefore start to backslide. This makes getting over their physical injuries even more difficult, let alone making progress on their PTSD.
For this reason, many employees who are diagnosed with PTSD contact a Workers’ Compensation lawyer to help them file a claim or appeal a denied claim. Experienced attorneys can get victims the compensation they are entitled to receive so that they can recover.
How Can Workplaces Spread PTSD Awareness?
Most workplaces focus plenty of attention on a variety of topics throughout the years, but PTSD is not necessarily among them. Yet, with nearly one out of every 10 people likely to experience PTSD over a lifetime, it makes sense for employers to start the conversation regarding this subject. Workplaces can host trainings and workshops regarding PTSD, as well as distribute literature and hang posters to identify the warning signs of PTSD. Employers can also talk about Workers’ Compensation and PTSD with their team members, if appropriate. By bringing PTSD into the spotlight, employers can make certain that their employees are aware that anyone can experience PTSD, rather than merely veterans.
Bucks County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Help Workers Suffering from PTSD
If you have been diagnosed with PTSD due to a workplace accident, contact one of our dedicated Bucks County Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. to help you recover necessary compensation. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 888-999-1962. Located in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina, we help injured workers throughout Pennsylvania.