Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Many people believe that the law doesn’t allow them to take legal action to pursue compensation for psychological harm. They’re wrong. Lawyers and judges know that psychological harm can be as real as physical harm, and anybody can suffer from it. Members of the military, police officers, firefighters, paramedics, emergency room personnel, victims of accidents or crimes and eyewitnesses to horrific events can all suffer from what’s commonly known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), PTSD is a disorder that can occur in people “who have witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.” The APA estimates that 3.5 percent of all adults in the United States and one in every 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD sometime in their life. It also says that women are twice as likely as men to suffer from PTSD.
The APA reports that PTSD symptoms fall into four different categories. Specific symptoms might vary from individual to individual. Those symptoms follow:
- Intrusive thoughts. While awake, sounds or smells victims might trigger victims re-live events or see them being revealed again in front of their own eyes. Other PTSD victims suffer from dreams or nightmares of the events in their sleep.
- Avoiding reminders. A PTSD victim might avoid people, places or things that remind him or her of the traumatic event. Many victims resist talking about it at all.
- Negative thoughts and negative feelings. Most PTSD sufferers develop a sense of detachment. The sufferer might develop continual fear, anger or guilt and diminished interest in activities that he or she previously enjoyed. Close friends and family members might be ignored or treated like strangers.
- Arousal and reactive symptoms like being extremely irritable reckless or self-destructive. The victim might have issues with insomnia or concentrating on simple tasks.
A psychiatrist or psychologist with experience in PTSD can formulate a diagnosis of the condition. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), an adult being evaluated for PTSD must have experienced all of the following symptoms within a month:
- At least one symptom involving intrusive thoughts when he or she re-lived the traumatic event.
- At least one avoidance symptom.
- At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms.
- At least two cognition and mood symptoms like difficulty concentrating, angry outbursts or insomnia.
The most common ways of treating PTSD are through medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. Some medications that are commonly used to treat PTSD include Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac, Xanax or Cymbalta. In psychotherapy, the patient interacts with a psychologist or psychiatrist either one-on-one or in group therapy in mutual discussions for six weeks up to three months. The most common form of psychotherapy is known as exposure therapy which aids people in confronting and controlling their fears. Cognitive restructuring therapy involves the victim’s recollection of events. He or she might recall events differently than they actually occurred. Feelings of shame or guilt aren’t unusual. Their thoughts of events are restructured to remember the occurrence in a more realistic way. Other forms of treatment for PTSD consist of stress inoculation training and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.
Contact a Louisville Personal Injury Lawyer
PTSD is a disability that can affect every aspect of a victim’s life. By working with skilled professionals, victims who suffer from PTSD might be fully relieved of the burdens of their symptoms. If you have been diagnosed with PTSD by a qualified mental health professional, or a family member has been diagnosed with it, compensation might be available for your medical bills, suffering, emotional distress and diminished quality of life. The first step to pursuing that is to contact our offices to arrange for a free and confidential consultation and case review. We promise to listen you closely and advise you of what we think we might be able to do for you. Don’t wait too long. Kentucky law imposes short and strict time limits on when you can bring a PTSD lawsuit. Make that call sooner rather than later.