Defending Those Who Defend Us®
  • Understanding PTSD

    Living through terrible events can leave a person feeling shattered and make it difficult to cope with and adjust to the rest of your life. This is especially true for soldiers after the horrors of war, but is no less true for the contractors who served side-by-side with them. Most people are likely to get better over time with the right care, but others can’t stop reliving their traumatic experiences. If you find yourself having difficulty functioning in your everyday life beyond the usual reaction time, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The good news is you’re not alone and there are excellent treatment options available.

    PTSD Statistics

    Currently, PTSD affects 7.7 million people in the United States alone, including 300,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and an untold number of contractors who worked in those wars. Ten percent of women and five percent of men will develop PTSD in their lifetime after experiencing a traumatic event. PTSD often coexists with other mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety and leaves sufferers more likely to abuse drugs and/or alcohol. Unfortunately, while there are effective treatments available, many veterans (and contractors) are too proud to seek out help for their condition.

    Symptoms of PTSD

    PTSD symptoms can be grouped into four categories:

    • Avoidance: This can include not thinking or talking about the battle that affected you and avoiding people, activities, and places that remind you of the traumatic event.
    • Intrusive memories: These include nightmares, flashbacks, recurrent memories of the event, and severe distress over things that remind you of the incident.
    • Changes in emotional reactions: These can include jumpiness, guilt, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, aggressive or self-destructive behavior, anger, and irritability.
    • Negative changes in mood or thinking: You may lose interest in things you once loved, feel negative about yourself or those around you, feel hopeless, have memory problems, feel numb, or be unable to experience positive emotions.

    Post-traumatic stress disorder must be diagnosed by a medical professional. To be diagnosed, you must meet criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders put out by the American Psychological Association.

    Treatment for PTSD

    After diagnosis, your doctor can refer you to several treatment options, the most common of which are psychotherapy and medication. Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, has been shown to have a great effect on PTSD sufferers. It can help you recognize cognitive patterns when you experience negative perceptions over normal situations.

    You may also be immersed in exposure therapy which safely exposes you to whatever is causing your intense fear. Another possibility is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, or EMDR. This form of therapy combines guided eye movements with exposure therapy to help you process traumatic events and change your reactions to them.

    Anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications have also been found to be helpful in treating PTSD. The Food and Drug Administration has approved SSRI medications as PTSD treatments, and anti-anxiety medications are sometimes prescribed short-term to relieve panic attacks and severe anxiety associated with the disorder. Your doctor may also prescribe nightmare suppressants, making it easier for you to sleep through the night.

    If your PTSD is the result of employment as a contractor supporting U.S. forces at war, your employer is responsible for paying for your treatment (as well as potentially compensating you for loss of wages.)

    Employer Requirements for Workers with PTSD

    PTSD is a disability condition covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Under this act, employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees with PTSD.

    Some examples of reasonable accommodations would be allowing time off for therapy, frequent breaks, allowing an employee to work from home, increasing privacy with closed doors or partitions, or allowing a service animal in the office. Employers are not allowed to discriminate based on disabilities when it comes to pay, promotions, hiring, recruitment, or other employment privileges.

    Life can be difficult when you have PTSD. As a soldier or contractor, you may feel more isolated than others who suffer from the same condition. If you have a legal issue, the law team at Military Justice Attorneys will ease you through the process needed for your best defense. We’ll fight aggressively on your behalf to protect your rights and your future. Call us today at 844-334-5459 for a free consultation, and let us defend you like you defended our country.

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