The United States Senate has designated June 27th as National PTSD Awareness Day. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that can result from a single or multiple traumatic events.
While most people associate PTSD with veterans, it can also result from serious trauma of life-threatening accidents and disasters. At Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, our accident attorneys have seen this disorder dramatically affect the lives of our clients, so we’d like to help spread the word about the importance of this issue.
What is PTSD?
PTSD can result from any type of traumatic event that you see, hear about or happens directly to you, including but not limited to:
- Exposure to combat
- Physical or sexual abuse or assault
- Serious accidents (such as a car accident, work accident, etc.)
- Natural disasters (such as fire, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, etc.)
Victims of large scale disasters, such as refinery explosions, maritime disasters, industrial accidents, and more often go on to suffer PTSD.
While most victims of trauma will exhibit some symptoms initially, not all will develop PTSD. Some factors that may affect whether you will develop the disorder include:
- The extent and duration of the trauma
- Direct injuries to you or the loss of a loved one
- Your proximity to the event
- The level of control you felt in relation to the event
- The support and assistance you received after the trauma
Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will typically start soon after the event but can also take months or even years to become evident. The symptoms may also come and go for years afterward.
There are 4 symptoms that indicate PTSD.
- Reliving the event: This can come in the form of recurring bad memories and nightmares. It can also feel as you though you are re-experiencing the event, called a flashback.
- Avoiding reminders: This symptom involves avoiding situations and people that remind you of the event, or trigger memories related to it. This can even include avoiding speaking or thinking about the trauma.
- Personality changes: A person suffering PTSD may experience negative changes in their beliefs and feelings, about themselves or other people. Fear, guilt, shame, hopelessness, depression and lack of joy in usual activities are common feelings.
- Hyperarousal: Feelings of being constantly alert, jittery, trouble concentrating and difficulty sleeping are known as hyperarousal.
Trauma victims may also experience physical symptoms such as chronic pain and suffer from drug and alcohol abuse.
Treatment for PTSD
The most effective treatment for PTSD is considered to be Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. There are a few different types of this therapy.
Cognitive Processing Therapy offers the skills to understand and cope with the impact the trauma had on your life, affecting your thoughts and feelings.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy encourages victims to repeatedly talk about the trauma until the memories no longer upset you.
Medications are also an effective treatment method. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), often used to treat depression, are commonly used medications. Prazosin, which decreases nightmares stemming from the trauma, are also used.
If you are suffering PTSD after being seriously injured in an accident, the attorneys helping clients with personal injury cases at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.