Post traumatic stress disorder is a serious injury and a very personal one. Hard to accept for many and in some cases completely debilitating.
What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a natural reaction to a deeply emotional and disturbing experience. It is usually suffered from witnessing or being part of a shocking event or a series of disturbing events.
Typically people working in the emergency services are more likely to suffer PTSD. Paramedics, Fire Fighters, Nurses, Soldiers, Police Officers and Social Workers are likely to witness horrific accidents and situations leaving scarring imagery and memories. These situations can include:
- Exposure to major accidents and fires.
- Advising bad news to bereaved families.
- Exposure sometimes repeatedly to violence and abuse.
- Involvement with child abuse cases.
- Combat stress, natural disasters and terrorism.
Post traumatic stress can be suffered in a variety of ways and it is not only the emergency services that are affected. Those involved in a major road accident can also suffer PTSD as well as those being subjected to bullying in the workplace or at school.
Post Traumatic Stress can manifest in many different ways and each case is completely individual.
Common symptoms of post trauma can be:
- Phobias and anxiety of certain situations
- Emotional and physical numbness
- Depression and chronic fatigue
- Irritable behaviour
- Easily startled
- Sudden outburst of violence or anger
- Pains in joints and muscles
- Little or no self-esteem and feelings of detachment
- Joint and muscle pains
- A lack of interest and poor concentration.
- Impulsive or irrational behaviour
- Flashbacks, Insomnia and night terrors.
- Paranoia and Hypervigilance
Is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder an illness?
PTSD is a psychiatric injury and not an illness. There is a huge misunderstanding regarding PTSD, and those suffering from it will often feel ashamed and overwhelmed and believe it is an illness.
A psychosis (mental breakdown) is unlike a stress breakdown which is a psychiatric injury (PTSD). The two are diagnosed and treated differently.
The difference between a mental illness and a psychiatric injury is that a mental illness is not usually or necessarily due to a particular event or series of events whereas a psychiatric injury is normally determined by a specific experience.
The difference between mental illness and psychiatric injury can usually be defined by certain characteristics and behavioural patterns:
- A history of depression in a family may sometimes lead to mental illness. In the case of a psychiatric injury there is no history.
- Also someone suffering from mental illness will often be completely unaware of their irregular behaviour whereas someone suffering from psychiatric injury will often be acutely aware of their behaviour and state of mind but unable to explain or control it.
- Furthermore in some cases of mental illness a person may be unintelligible, confused and incoherent. A person suffering from psychiatric injury will often still be highly articulate but ultimately compromised by the trauma.
In the past PTSD has been referred to as shell shock, soldiers heart, the ‘thousand yard stare’ and many other phrases but it wasn’t until 1980 that the American Psychiatric Association recognised the injury as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A remarkable fact bearing in mind reports of PTSD date back to biblical times, the disorder affected thousands of soldiers suffering horrendous conditions in the trenches of Word War I and at least 1 in 3 suffer PTSD following a traumatic experience.
There are charities set up such as Mind that can provide valuable help and understanding for anyone suffering from post traumatic stress.
Compensation for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Many people ask if they can make a claim for PTSD and the answer is yes, but like any other injury claim financial compensation can only be recovered if it can be shown that your post traumatic stress disorder was brought on by the negligence or carelessness of someone else.
For instance you may be suffering from PTSD as a result of your employers failing to provide a safe and healthy work place and not because of your inability to do your job. If this is the case then you would be able to make a claim for compensation.
Many cases of PTSD are caused by the effect of being involved or witnessing serious road traffic accidents. If you have been involved in a motor accident that wasn’t your fault and as a result are suffering from post traumatic stress symptoms then you may be entitled to make a claim against the responsible driver.
In recent years and due to changes in the law PTSD has become better understood and more commonly accepted and recognised as an injury that deserves to be compensated when through no fault of their own someone is suffering from PTSD.
Thankfully many people have now had access to justice and made successful claims for psychiatric injuries than ever before.
Making a claim for post traumatic stress can be more complex than say a physical injury such as a broken arm or leg. It can take years to quantify the damage caused which is why you will need an expert solicitor to handle your claim.
At Injury Claims Assistance our solicitors are specialised in handling personal injury claims for post traumatic stress disorder and will be able to get the maximum compensation you deserve if you have or are suffering from a psychiatric injury that was caused by someone else’s negligence.