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Long-Term Effects Of PTSD From Work Disasters

Female worker suffering from PTSD

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The American Psychological Association defines posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a mental illness that may happen to people who have encountered or witnessed a traumatic event.

A traumatic event includes, but is not limited to, a natural calamity, accident, war, or situations in which you’re threatened with death, sexual violence, or serious injury.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was denoted as “shell shock” and “combat fatigue” during the historical World War. Military veterans manifested symptoms of PTSD, which, consequently, led to depression and suicide. People suffering from the illness may have intense, disrupting thoughts and feelings even after the traumatic event has ended. This stress-related disorder may also occur to people regardless of ethnicity, culture, or age.

PTSD and Work Disasters

Work-related disasters may occur due to uncontrolled events. Even regular jobs that don’t typically pose threats may still bring unpredictable and hazardous circumstances to employees. This disaster can lead to injuries, tragedies, property damage, and the like.

The long-term consequences of this disaster can become detrimental to both your physical and psychological well-being. Due to this, work disasters may compel the company to compensate you and the other employees affected by the event. Also, to know if you’re eligible for a Victim’s Compensation Fund (VCF), you can learn more here.

It’s essential that each company has a strategic plan to avert or lessen the probability of threats in the workplace. This is the employer’s responsibility.
Moreover, there are many factors that contribute toward the development of PTSD due to work-associated trauma. Some of these risk and resilience factors can be influenced by genetics and the support system that surrounds the victim.

There are instances when the victim can recover later on in life. However, there are also times when the employee may bear the permanent impact of the traumatic event. Keep on reading to educate yourself on the long-term effects of this stress-related disorder.

1. Refusal to Work

When you encounter reminders of the disaster, your body’s fight or flight response prompts your cortisol levels to rise. This aggravates pervasive feelings and compels you to behave differently. This is why you may become reluctant to go or stay near the work area where the injury or accident occurred.

Consequently, you may be unable to physically return to work because of your thoughts about the trauma. In the long haul, this may affect your productivity, concentration, and performance.

Avoidance is a common reaction from trauma. The avoidance cluster of PTSD includes symptoms that may allow you to refrain from memories or external reminders of the disaster. Such may simply be conversations or pictures of the event. For instance, passing near the site of the event, the anniversary of the disaster, and sounds or smells that were linked to the event may cause distress.

As the injured employee, you may tend to depart from situations, activities, and even places that are associated with the trauma. You may be daunted that these reminders may trigger unbearable memories of the disaster.

2. Engage in Unhealthy Coping Behaviors

Another cluster under this stress-associated disorder is hyperarousal. This category pertains to physiological and emotional reactions which are manifested through chronic anxiety, apprehension, difficulty sleeping, irritability, panic attacks, and even self-destructive coping behaviors.

Trauma is incomprehensible to anyone who experienced or witnessed it. For this reason, you may unconsciously form habits that allow you to escape from the problem at hand. With this, you may tend to medicate yourself through drinking alcohol.

Unhealthy coping behaviors may have compulsive and addictive qualities. Substances, such as alcohol, alter your brain chemistry. Alcohol is a depressant which operates to slow down the central nervous system and prompts relaxing feelings. It also influences inhibition, judgment, and memory. There might be instances when you attempt to reach for it to help you sleep or alleviate the symptoms of PTSD. However, if you have problems falling asleep after the injury, it would be best to seek medical advice. This may be a sign that you should go see a neurologist.

Keep in mind that clinging to alcohol can only serve as a quick fix to your symptoms. Substance use can potentially worsen your problem in the long haul. Likewise, engaging in these unhelpful behaviors may further delay your recovery and your opportunity to return to work.

3. Social Isolation

Work-related disasters that stem from PTSD may meddle with your ability to function or engage with your officemates or colleagues. Seeing and engaging with workers who were also involved in the traumatic event may bring flashbacks and intrusive memories. For instance, survivors of a mining disaster may have trouble connecting with fellow survivors.

In some cases, this problem may also spread through relationships outside of work. This may lead to a lack of interest in all the people, places, and activities you used to enjoy prior to the event.

Moreover, permanent effects of mental illness are manifested through detaching from social connections due to the fear of appearing anxious or restless. You may think that when you become vulnerable in front of others, you may be humiliated for doing so. For this reason, you may tend to hide your symptoms and resist telling people who are close to you about these.

Consequently, this often results in feelings of isolation from family and friends.

4. Development of Other Mental Disorders

Comorbidity pertains to the presence of more than one illness in the same person.

The traumatic work disaster may involve persistent feelings of anxiety. This anxiety may worsen over time and may lead to the diagnosis of another mental disorder. Tara Emrani, MD, a clinical instructor of psychiatry at New York University Langone Health claims that there are times in which these mental conditions are diagnosed before the presence of PTSD.

General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is the most common anxiety disorder linked to PTSD. This anxiety disorder may allow you to feel worried about daily regular activities. Allison Young, MD reported that you may have challenges managing emotional distress, feel restless, experience headaches, or go to the bathroom a lot. These issues may be time and energy-consuming which may then influence how you approach your job.

Apart from anxiety-related disorders, substance abuse disorders may be manifested as a way to escape intrusive feelings and thoughts. This may further interfere with your ability to function in other important areas apart from work.

The Takeaway

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder from work disasters may leave a permanent psychological scar to victims who are unable to fully recover from the trauma. Nonetheless, you don’t need to suffer for a long time. By reaching out to a mental health provider, you may be able to receive proper treatment to alleviate your symptoms.

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