Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

(also referred to as "PTSD")

People all over the world experience traumatic events every day which are out of their control. These frightening and overwhelming incidents can include car crashes, assaults, accidents and witnessing accidents or horrifying scenes.

Most of the time, people involved in traumatic incidents will experience a certain amount of shock, but they will not be permanently psychologically affected. A proportion of these will experience a severe and ongoing emotional reaction to the event. This reaction was previously recognised in soldiers returning from the battlefield and called ‘shell shock’.

These days, the condition is known as ‘post traumatic stress disorder’ or ‘PTSD’. Experts now agree that the condition affects many people who have been exposed to traumatic situations, on and off the battlefield.

More recently, PTSD has been diagnosed in people who have experienced continual overbearing stress as opposed to one isolated event, such as working in a highly stressful environment, and some of these sufferers have made successful claims for PTSD compensation.

PTSD symptoms

Symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder can include flashbacks, nightmares, difficulty sleeping, muscle tension and total avoidance of the source of the trauma. They can also include feelings of grief, guilt, anger, depression and extreme anxiety.

Symptoms of PTSD tend to be very invasive and can cause problems with all areas of a person’s life including work, family and friendships. Symptoms can appear at any time over the weeks or months following the traumatic event, although they normally appear within around six months.

Some professions are more likely to be exposed to the potential causes of PTSD. Military personnel, ambulance workers, members of the fire brigade and the police force all have the propensity to come face to face with shocking scenes on a daily basis. These people therefore have a higher risk of suffering from post traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives.

PTSD compensation claims

In the past, courts have been reluctant to award compensation for psychological conditions arising from traumatic experiences, such as post traumatic stress disorder. However, as awareness increases, more people are successfully claiming for this very real and potentially devastating psychiatric condition.