Q: What is workplace PTSD and does it qualify for workers’ compensation?
When you’re severely injured in a work-related accident, your physical wounds aren’t the only injuries that need to heal. Unfortunately, once the physical trauma mends, your employer and co-workers will assume that since you’re physically capable of returning that you’ll come back to work without delay. However, what they fail to recognize is that with every injury comes a certain level of mental trauma that may not mend at the same rate as a broken bone or laceration. In fact, mental scarring can take years to improve and cause serious psychological setbacks, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Workplace Injury PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that develops following a serious or traumatic accident. During an accident, your body releases adrenaline and other hormones as a response to pain, anxiety, and fear. As a result of these hormones, your brain and body essentially go into hyper-drive. Your brain assesses the situation, figuratively takes notes, and tries to make sense of what is happening, while your body simultaneously reacts to the brain’s assessment to attempt to protect itself
Unfortunately, this biological cause-and-effect, although useful during the time of the accident, can have delayed effects. These delayed effects can include prolonged anxiety, stress, depression, and fear that overwhelms the victim’s senses at any reminder of the initial incident. This effect is known as post-traumatic stress disorder. It can be extremely inconvenient and debilitating when associated with work-related accidents.
Symptoms of PTSD
Diagnosing PTSD is not as cut-and-dried as diagnosing someone with a broken bone. You can’t just x-ray the body, run a few tests, and know for sure that someone is suffering emotionally. A medical professional examining you for PTSD will check to see if you are exhibiting the common symptoms of PTSD, which may include:
- Avoidance. Avoidance can come in many forms, and it may involve antisocial behavior, or explicit evasion of people, places, activities, and objects that could trigger a memory of their workplace accident. Unfortunately, the biggest trigger for many work injury victims is the workplace itself.
- Repetition. A common symptom of PTSD is mentally reliving your accident over and over again. This may mean you have intense flashbacks, dreams, or haunting memories that plague you on a regular basis.
- Depression and anxiety. The most debilitating of PTSD symptoms is the mental anguish that comes with depression and anxiety. These effects can include irritability and unjustifiable anger, self-destructive or violent behavior, obsessive-compulsive behavior, difficulty sleeping, hyperawareness (similar to the hypersensitivity you experienced during the accident), inability to concentrate, and physical discomforts such as headaches, ulcers, and high blood pressure.
If you exhibit any of these symptoms following a workplace injury and believe the cause may be PTSD, you need to talk to your doctor and your employer as soon as possible. You not only need to start treatment immediately but due to strict deadlines, if you fail to report your illness in a timely fashion, you may lose your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Workers’ Compensation for PTSD
Mental health claims are some of the most difficult workers’ compensation cases to pursue, as they’re difficult to prove. However, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney such as Steve Lee will have the resources, abilities, and drive to make sure your case is strong and your employee rights are upheld.
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