Unfortunately, mental stress is part of many work environments. In some cases, mental unease can translate into a more serious affliction, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD tends to be more common for workers exposed to traumatic situations. As with other mental health conditions, the laws about workers’ compensation and PTSD can be complex. Many people can also have trouble differentiating PTSD symptoms from regular levels of stress or unhappiness.
Generally, it is accepted that PTSD arises as a result of a precipitating traumatic event. In practice, it is easier to make a case for PTSD when the event in question is objectively one that most people would agree is traumatic to an extraordinary extent. PTSD can be caused by experiencing or witnessing a trauma. For example, traumatic events have included witnessing a workplace shooting or an extremely upsetting patient death.
Classes of symptoms
There are three main types of symptoms commonly experienced by PTSD sufferers. The first includes re-experiencing the traumatic event. This can take the form of flashbacks, nightmares and intrusive thoughts or memories. The second centers around avoidance of anything potentially connected to the trauma. A person may be unable to go back to the location where the event happened or unable to speak with people who were connected to the event. The third class of symptoms includes hyper-vigilance, increased irritability, inability to focus and problems sleeping. Most mental health professionals require these symptoms to persist for at least a month before making a diagnosis.
In many cases, PTSD can occur along with other mental or physical conditions. Frequently, PTSD sufferers also report symptoms of depressive disorder or anxiety. Although Colorado law recognized PTSD as a condition covered by workers’ compensation, it is still easier to get workers’ compensation for PTSD when the traumatic event also caused physical injury.
Another factor that can complicate a workers’ compensation claim for PTSD is that many people are slow to recognize the symptoms and slow to tie them to the event that caused them. For example, extreme mistreatment at work can be sufficiently traumatic to trigger PTSD. However, employees used to a generally toxic workplace can have difficulty pointing out a particular event as being particularly outside the norms of ordinary behavior. For this reason, if you are experiencing symptoms potentially related to PTSD, it is important to consult a professional as soon as possible.
Getting workers’ compensation can be an uphill battle, especially when it comes to psychological conditions such as PTSD. Working with an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer can give you the best chance of succeeding with your claim.