Recognizing physical signs of injuries resulting from an accident or traumatic event is usually fairly simple, but what about psychological and emotional damages? Unlike a broken leg or a cut on the arm which is obvious when it hurts, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological injury that can sometimes be more difficult to detect. In fact, symptoms of PTSD can surface months and maybe even years later from a traumatic event. What may seem like depression or anger may actually be a more chronic condition and affect an individual in so many ways.
What is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental injury caused by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. When we are involved in a dangerous, devastating, or terrifying situation, our mind can trigger a “fight or flight” response as it switches into survival mode. Our brains are meant to regularly react to information and situations, and then process accordingly. PTSD caused by trauma makes it difficult for the mind to switch out of that reactive state and process information as it usually would, and certain triggers can force the brain to continue to react in survival mode. PTSD can develop from distressing events such as a natural disaster, serious car accidents, criminal acts, sexual violence, unexpected death of a loved one, terrorism, rape, serious injury, and many more.
Traditionally we often think of military veterans when we hear the term PTSD, as much of the history behind post-traumatic stress disorder has been associated with returning war veterans. As we have come to better understand PTSD, medical professionals have found it is a very common condition that can affect a person’s way of life, relationships, behaviors, sleep, memories, and more. It is interesting to find that about 8 million people have PTSD every year and about 7 or 8 out of 100 individuals will have the condition sometime in their life. Although PTSD is treatable, many individuals face long-term or permanent effects.
What are the Symptoms of PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms can vary from person to person and can interfere with an individual’s ability to function in their daily life. From behavioral changes to affecting social relationships, PTSD can manifest in ways that are not always obvious. Some people experience chronic, long-term PTSD conditions, whereas others may have short-term. Symptoms can have psychological and behavioral effects, as well as impact mood and sleep. Typically, PTSD symptoms are grouped into four types: memories, avoidance, arousal, and mood.
Recurring or Intrusive Memories
· Frightening thoughts
· Avoiding thoughts or feelings in relation to the event
· Staying away from things that trigger reminders of the event
· Steering clear of anyone and everything that had to do with the event
· Easily startled or anxious
· Feeling “on edge” or tense
· Difficulty sleeping or relaxing
· Trouble concentrating
· Outbursts of anger
Cognition and Mood
· Loss of interest or detachment from enjoyed activities or people
· Negative thoughts about yourself or other people
· Negative outlook on the world
· Hopelessness or feeling emotionally numb
· Distorted feelings of blame or guilt
· Feeling detached from friends and family
· Self-destructive or risky behaviors
It is very common to have many of the above symptoms for a few weeks right after a traumatic event, without it developing into a chronic form of PTSD. Depression, thoughts of suicide, substance abuse, panic attacks, and other debilitating conditions often accompany PTSD. It is always best to seek medical care and treatment when you suspect that you or a loved one is experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, especially when problems last for longer than a few weeks.
Can I Sue for PTSD?
In a personal injury lawsuit, you can file a claim for mental anguish and attempt to recover damages for PTSD on the basis of emotional distress. Post-traumatic stress disorder is an actual injury, based on trauma. These types of claims can be more complicated to prove in court, though. Unlike physical injuries where x-rays and MRIs are used as proof, PTSD claims are more difficult as mental health issues are not always as visible. You and your lawyer will need to demonstrate why you should recover damages for emotional distress, which will call your medical history into question. Suits for PTSD will also likely require testimony from an “expert witness,” such as a medical professional – doctor or therapist - who diagnoses and treats PTSD.
Having a skillful and dedicated lawyer can really make the difference in a personal injury lawsuit, especially regarding claims for PTSD. At Galindo Law, we are experts at defending your rights and challenging for recovery from emotional distress and PTSD. If you have any questions at all regarding PTSD lawsuits or compensation for a traumatic event, we are here for you.
You might also like to read the 5 Tips for Victims of a Personal Injury or Accident