Your options if you suffer from anxiety and depression after a work injury
Work accidents often lead to physical injuries that keep you from being able to return to your normal activities. In the case of a severe injury, you might not be able to continue working in your former position.
You may also be dealing with the added stress of trying to cope with a new health diagnosis, paying for healthcare and struggling to manage your other expenses while you are out of work.
All of these can contribute to the development of chronic mental health conditions that include depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Similar to a physical injury, psychological and emotional injuries such as depression and anxiety can require you to seek professional treatment to help you regain your normal lifestyle.
To better understand how Arizona workers’ compensation laws can help you receive the proper compensation for depression or anxiety after your work accident, continue reading.
How common is depression after a work accident?
Experiencing a work-related injury that impacts your mental health often leads to feelings of isolation. It might help to know that you are not alone.
Research suggests that the chances of an injured worker developing depression are 45 percent higher than workers who didn’t sustain an injury. Dealing with chronic pain and the emotional turmoil of having your life suddenly turned upside down also contributes to a higher chance of you developing depression.
Are certain people at greater risk of developing depression and anxiety?
People who are exposed to a high level of stress and risks at work are more likely to experience difficulty maintaining positive mental health after a work-related injury.
Firefighters, police officers and paramedics are a few professions where you should be vigilant of the possibility of developing depression and anxiety after an accident. Since these types of careers involve helping others, it can feel unsettling to realize that you are on the receiving end of needing care.
If you already struggle with depression or anxiety, then you should also know that your accident injuries could make your condition worse. People often develop heightened symptoms in response to stress, and this could cause you to need additional treatment during this time.
What are the signs of emotional trauma after an accident?
As a general rule, most people will show some or all of the following symptoms of depression after a work accident:
- Persistent feelings of sadness
- Feeling hopeless or lost
- Increased irritability
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- Reliving the event through flashbacks
- Having thoughts about suicide or self-harm
- Feeling intense fear that the accident could happen again
- Experiencing physical symptoms such as nausea, muscle aches and fatigue
There is also no one-size-fits-all for how depression and anxiety affect a person. People in careers that discourage being open about mental health might experience denial about their depression at first.
Men tend to show outward and more negative emotional responses after an accident, such as being angry or turning to drugs or alcohol to cope. Women sometimes turn their sadness inwards and may self-isolate or experience guilt for what happened. Knowing what is normal for you helps make it easier to identify when you might need professional mental health treatment.
What treatments are available for anxiety and depression?
Fortunately, you have a wide range of options available for healing emotionally after a traumatic accident. Therapy and counseling are especially effective for helping you to learn how to cope with your symptoms, and there are several different forms—such as CBT—that can target your specific mental health condition. Some people also require medication.
Finding the right treatment for you begins with a thorough physical and mental health exam which will provide you with an accurate diagnosis. Seeking treatment helps prevent the mental health condition from getting worse. In some cases, beginning treatment soon after the accident could also prevent depression and anxiety from becoming chronic.
Can you receive compensation for work-related trauma?
The good news is that Arizona’s workers’ compensation law does allow for mental health treatment coverage, but only in certain circumstances.
In Arizona, these cases are controlled by ARS 23-1043.01, which states that the event must be unusual, extraordinary and unexpected. The law also says that the stressful or mentally harmful event must be the “substantial contributing cause” of the person’s mental illness.
These are very difficult standards of proof to meet, which is why work-related mental stress injury cases are challenging cases in Arizona that require the experience and knowledge of a certain attorney.
In Arizona, you might be eligible to receive compensation for PTSD and other mental health conditions if you received a diagnosis from a licensed counselor or mental health professional. You’ll also need to undergo treatment from a licensed provider that demonstrates your need for compensation so that you can cover your past treatments and any future needs.
Seeking help from a licensed mental health professional is only part of what you need to do to get your treatment covered. You’ll also want to reach out to an Arizona workers’ compensation lawyer who can make sure that you follow the other appropriate steps, such as reporting your claim to your employer and making sure that your case is properly filed with the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA).
Workers’ compensation cases for anxiety and depression can sometimes get complicated, especially if you have a prior history of mental health conditions. There may also be a timeline associated with your case that can make it harder to get compensation if you delay filing your claim. Reaching out to our team at the Law Office of Robert E. Wisniewski gives you a better chance at receiving the assistance you need to recover emotionally after a traumatic accident.