Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

 

Disability caused by Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs far more frequently than most Canadians might imagine, and can result from common-place events such as car accidents, motorcycle accidents and physical assaults. A Canadian study of prevalence rates for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) found that the prevalence rate of PTSD over a lifetime was estimated at 9.2 per cent, with a one-month PTSD rate of 2.4 per cent. Given the low rate of violent crime, natural disasters and limited military involvement, the relatively high incidence of PTSD in this country was surprising for researchers involved in the study. About 76 per cent of respondents reported that exposure to at least one traumatic event was sufficient to cause post-traumatic stress disorder.

The most common types of trauma resulting in PTSD, as determined in the Canadian study, was the unexpected death of a loved one, seeing someone killed or seriously injured, and sexual assault. Respondents who met the criteria for PTSD reported that they suffered from chronic symptoms which often caused significant impairment and a high incidence of multiple chronic symptoms.

PTSD is a caused by a traumatic event that involves either a real or potential physical harm to the individual or to others. The triggering event typically causes feelings of intense fear, horror or hopelessness. PTSD can be a chronic condition and may affect people of any age, but it is more prevalent among women.

Immediately after the triggering event, individuals often feel strangely unaffected due to being in shock. However, individuals suffering from PTSD begin to experience recurrent images of the traumatic event through flashbacks and/or nightmares that are so realistic that the person feels they are reliving the event. Flashbacks may be triggered by ordinary occurrences such as riding in a car (following a serious car accident) or a car backfiring (which can resemble the sound of gunfire).

Symptoms

PTSD symptoms usually appear within three months of the triggering event and last at least one month. Statistics Canada reports that about half of the individuals who experience PTSD recover fully within 3 to 6 months after the initial appearance of symptoms, but for others, symptoms persist for many years. The severity of the disorder is generally greater when the triggering event was unanticipated or was caused by another person, such as an assault or rape.

Recurrent flashbacks, anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, sleep disorders, and survivor’s guilt cause emotional impairment for PTSD sufferers. A diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder is based on the following 6 criteria, according to Statistics Canada.

  1. The person must have been exposed, or subjected to, a traumatic event that involved threatened or actual death or injury to themselves or another person, and must have responded in intense fear or terror.
  2. The person persistently relives the traumatic event. This may occur through recurring and invasive recollections of the incident, recurring and distressing dreams, flashbacks, or intense distress when exposed to cues similar to an aspect of the traumatic event.
  3. The person consistently avoids stimuli associated with the traumatic event in order to avoid thoughts of the event, or avoids activities, people or places that may remind them of the trauma. The person may be unable to recall important aspects of the event. They may also have feelings of detachment from others, a diminished ability to feel emotions such as intimacy, and may have a sense of hopelessness about their future.
  4. The person undergoes persistent feelings of increased arousal. Symptoms include: difficulty staying asleep or falling asleep, irritability, angry outbursts, hypervigilance, concentration problems, and/or pronounced startle response.
  5. Symptoms must be present for at least one month.
  6. Symptoms result in significant impairment or disability, with respect to social, work or other areas of functioning.

Prognosis and recovery from PTSD is greatly improved with early diagnosis -- studies have shown that persons who remain symptomatic for more than one year have a lower risk of full recovery. Medications (particularly serotonin reuptake inhibitors), psychotherapy and support groups are included in recommended treatment regime. For some individuals, years of treatment may be needed to prevent a relapse of the condition.

PTSD symptoms (such as acute anxiety, an inability to concentrate, feelings of depression, sleep disturbances causing fatigue, and difficulty with interpersonal relationships) generally have a substantial impact on a person’s ability to work. Also, individuals who sustained PTSD after a traumatic motor vehicle accident may be unable to drive or even ride in a car or another mode of transportation while their symptoms persist. For many people, the inability to drive or ride can make it impossible for them to travel to work or perform their job if it involves driving a vehicle.

At Kotak Personal Injury Law, we have helped many clients obtained owed long-term disability benefits when their LTD claim was denied or prematurely terminated. If you or a loved one are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and your LTD benefits were denied, call an experienced LTD benefits lawyer at Kotak Law for an honest assessment of your case.

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