Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has received much publicity in recent years. It’s a mental illness suffered by many military service veterans coming home from war. But civilians exposed to traumatic events can develop PTSD as well. WebMD says about 5.2 million American adults suffer from PTSD during the course of a year, and an estimated 7.8 million Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.
North Carolina workers who suffer from PTSD because of an accident, act of violence or some other traumatic event encountered as part of their job duties may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to assist with the expenses of their recovery or disability.
If you have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder or illness like PTSD that adversely affects your ability to perform the functions of your job, call the North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers at Hardison & Cochran. We serve clients throughout North Carolina, including in Raleigh, Cary, Durham and Fayetteville. We can set up a free review of your case. Call us today at (800) 434-8399 or complete our online form.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that is caused by seeing or living through a dangerous event, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even long after they were in danger. Anyone may suffer from PTSD. As the name implies, it is the shock – the trauma – of an incident that causes the delayed mental health problems of PTSD. It is unknown why some people suffer from PTSD when others who went through the same ordeal do not.
PTSD is normally associated with military service. But a traumatic event can occur at work, school, on the street or at home. Some people suffer from PTSD after a friend, co-worker or family member experiences danger or is harmed, the NIMH says. The sudden, unexpected death of anyone close to us can cause PTSD.
The NIMH and other medical authorities group the symptoms of PTSD into three categories:
1. Re-experiencing symptoms – This can cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can trigger re-experiencing it. It can also be caused by the PTSD victim’s thoughts and feelings. Re-experiencing may be manifested as:
- Physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
- Bad dreams / nightmares
- Frightening thoughts.
2. Avoidance symptoms – This involves fleeing situations that remind a person of the traumatic event. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad accident at a construction job, a person suffering from PTSD would be anxious about returning to a construction site. Avoidance also manifests as emotional avoidance, including:
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
- Losing interest in activities that were once enjoyable, including occupational activities
- Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.
3. Hyperarousal symptoms – These are usually constant instead of being triggered by reminders of the traumatic event. They can make the PTSD victim feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to accomplish daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating or concentrating. Hyperarousal includes:
- Being easily startled
- Feeling tense or “on edge”
- Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.
The NIMH cites panic disorder, depression, substance abuse and feeling suicidal as possibly ongoing problems associated with PTSD.
PTSD is treated with psychological therapy and medication. This treatment is often ongoing, in part because PTSD symptoms that seem to have disappeared can be triggered unexpectedly. And just as PTSD is different with each of its victims, the appropriate treatment varies for each victim. This makes it important for the PTSD patient to get help from a therapist experienced with PTSD.
Because PTSD sufferers can exhibit symptoms of depression, or mood swings and angry outbursts, family members and other people around the PTSD victim suffer as well. Spouses and children of PTSD victims may require psychological help.
The Challenges of a North Carolina PTSD Claim
Demonstrating that a worker’s post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been caused by their work environment or job duties can be difficult. But the collapse of scaffolding, trench collapse or explosion that led to workers’ deaths might cause PTSD in a co-worker who witnessed the event. Work attendance records, accident reports and doctors’ records and recommendations would support a PTSD claim in such a case.
An experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer who has worked with post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers can help you demonstrate the causal connection between your job and PTSD.
Our Raleigh Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Lawyers Are Ready To Help
Hardison & Cochran handles many injury and workers’ compensation cases in North Carolina in which the injured person suffers from mental illness, including post-traumatic stress disorder. If you or a loved one needs a lawyer to handle your workers’ compensation claim, make sure your attorney has experience representing clients who suffer from PTSD. Contact Hardison & Cochran today by calling (800) 434-8399 or completing our online form. We can respond within 24 hours and provide a free case review.