Mental Health Pandemic Quietly Grows

Author: Catherine Reeves, Lawyer at Metzger Wickersham

June is “National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month,” and is intended to raise public awareness about issues related to PTSD, reduce the stigma associated with PTSD, and help ensure that those suffering from traumatic invisible wounds receive proper treatment.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a mental health condition that a person may develop after experiencing a traumatic event. What is considered traumatic is individual to the person, and it is very possible to have PTSD even after what may be considered a minor incident, such as a rear-end car accident or even after a global crisis like COVID-19. Many people believe that only combat veterans will develop PTSD, but PTSD can occur in all people, in people of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and any age.

According to American Psychiatric Association, PTSD affects approximately 3.5% of U.S. adults, and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD.

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD symptoms often co-exist with other conditions such as substance use disorders, depression and anxiety. A comprehensive medical evaluation by a mental health professional is used to create an individualized treatment plan based on each individual’s symptoms and needs.

Symptoms of PTSD generally fall into these broad categories that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) outlines:

  • Re-experiencing type symptoms, such as recurring distressing memories, which can include flashbacks of the trauma, bad dreams and intrusive thoughts.
  • Avoidance, which can include staying away from certain places or objects that are reminders of the traumatic event. A person might actively avoid a place or person that might activate overwhelming symptoms.
  • Cognitive and mood symptoms, which can include trouble recalling the event, negative thoughts about one’s self. A person may also feel numb, guilty, worried or depressed and have difficulty remembering the traumatic event. Cognitive symptoms can in some instances extend to include out-of-body experiences or feeling that the world is "not real" (derealization).
  • Arousal symptoms, such as hypervigilance. Examples might include being intensely startled by stimuli that resembles the trauma, trouble sleeping, outbursts of anger or being on edge.

Some individuals may turn to drugs and/or alcohol to escape symptoms. A person may want to get screened for PTSD if symptoms start affecting their ability to perform activities of daily living such as going to work, spending time with others, or going shopping. Treatment can include therapy and medications which can eliminate or at least help manage the symptoms over time. 

PTSD can be disabling. A Social Security disability claimant should be able to prove that PTSD prevents them from being able to perform basic work functions, such as handling interactions with coworkers and supervisors or maintaining concentration on simple tasks. A claimant may also be eligible to claim workers’ compensation benefits if the PTSD developed from a traumatic work injury. In the context of a personal injury incident, a claimant may be compensated for pain and suffering due to mental health issues that developed after the accident. 

If you are suffering from PTSD due to the negligence of others, a workplace accident, or are disabled due to your condition, consult with the attorneys at Metzger Wickersham to consider your options. We will answer your questions and provide legal advice during a no-cost case evaluation. Call us at (888)-286-2850 or email us to schedule your free consultation today.

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