PTSD and workers’ compensation
There’s no doubt that post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a serious problem. It affects many people, including military veterans, police officers and first responders, survivors of physical or emotional abuse, witnesses to violence or accidents and others.
Any number of traumatic experiences can trigger PTSD symptoms. Fortunately, there are treatments available to help those with PTSD, and recovery is possible. The 1st step is recognizing that you have symptoms so you can get the help you need.
What is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop after traumatic events like war, natural disasters, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assaults.
When we’re faced with a traumatic event, our fear triggers a “fight-or-flight” response that causes our bodies to release certain stress hormones, like adrenaline, that increase our alertness, heart rate and blood pressure to help us react and survive.
For most people, this natural response from our body ceases when we’re no longer under threat. But people with PTSD may continue to have abnormally high levels of stress hormones for months or even years after an event, which may result in a number of symptoms that affect their quality of life.
Signs and symptoms of PTSD
The symptoms of PTSD can vary from person to person but may include:
- Nightmares about the traumatic event
- Avoidance of situations or people who remind them of their trauma
- Feeling constantly on guard and ready for danger even when there isn’t any present
- Feeling numb or disconnected from other people
- Difficulty sleeping due to nightmares or flashbacks
These symptoms may come and go and are often triggered by certain events or situations.
What causes PTSD?
The exact cause of PTSD is unknown. However, it’s believed that a combination of biological and environmental factors play a role in its development.
Some research suggests that early life experiences such as childhood neglect or abuse can put you at a higher risk for developing PTSD later in life. Other studies show that specific genes make some people more likely to develop PTSD than others.
What jobs cause the most PTSD?
PTSD is most common among first responders such as police officers, EMTs and firefighters. These workers are particularly vulnerable because they’re more likely to witness traumatic events. They may also struggle with feelings of guilt about how they responded during an emergency or about being unable to save everyone involved in an incident.
Does everyone develop PTSD after a traumatic experience?
The short answer is no. While it’s estimated that around 8 percent of people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, not everyone who undergoes trauma will develop the disorder. Most people who go through a traumatic experience are able to process the experience and move on.
Several factors can influence whether someone develops PTSD. Two of the most important factors are the severity of the trauma and how long it lasted. For example, someone is less likely to experience PTSD after experiencing a short-term traumatic event like witnessing office violence between two co-workers than if they were held hostage for an extended period of time.
Another important factor is whether or not the person had previous traumatic experiences in their life. Additionally, mental health issues such as depression or anxiety disorders may contribute to the development of PTSD.
What treatment is available for PTSD?
The good news is that there are many effective treatments for PTSD available today, including therapy and medication.
The 2 most common forms of therapy for PTSD include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most common therapy for PTSD. It helps patients learn how to manage their symptoms by changing negative thought patterns and behaviors into positive ones.
- Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is another treatment that focuses on helping patients understand how past experiences may be affecting them today.
Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can also help reduce symptoms like depression or insomnia associated with PTSD.
Legal help for PTSD workers’ compensation benefits
If you’ve experienced a traumatic event in the workplace and believe you may be suffering from PTSD, legal help is available. The 1st step is to schedule an appointment with a licensed mental health professional who can provide a diagnosis and treatment.
Under Arizona workers’ compensation law, injured workers only have 1 year from the date of the event and/or diagnosis of PTSD to file a claim with the Industrial Commission of Arizona. The worker must also notify their employer as soon as possible after being diagnosed with work-related PTSD.
Workers’ comp claims for PTSD can be complicated, so it’s best to work with a workers’ compensation attorney who has experience in PTSD cases and can protect your rights.
If you live in Arizona and have been injured at work, the experienced workers’ comp attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski are here to help. Attorney Bob Wisniewski is highly experienced in PTSD claims and has represented many Arizonans suffering from PTSD, including law enforcement officers and first responders, when they’ve been deprived of the benefits they were owed. He’ll help you through the complex workers’ compensation claim process and fight to ensure you receive the care and compensation you deserve.