Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Suffering in Silence

Although Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) did not become an official diagnosis until 1980, its symptoms and sufferings have been with us for many centuries. For example, there are the cases of ‘shell shock’ during the Great War which are now known to have been cases of PTSD. Unfortunately for its sufferers, PTSD is still seen as a weakness by some and our society expects people who are involved in or witness traumatic events to just ‘get over it’ within a very short period of time.

One aspect that contributes to society’s lack of understanding is that very few people know what PTSD actually is. There is also the question why some people suffer from it after what seems a relatively mild trauma and others can survive a major event and have no symptoms at all. To address these two questions let’s look at the definition of PTSD.

What is PTSD?

According to the NHS PTSD is “an anxiety disorder caused by stressful, frightening or distressing events”. These can include being involved in or witnessing:

• Road accidents
• Violent physical or sexual assault
• Military combat
• Terrorist attacks
• Someone’s violent death
• Prolonged physical or sexual abuse or neglect
• Natural disasters

PTSD does not necessarily develop straight after the event. There have been many documented cases where a person has been involved in, or witnessed a traumatic event, and for months or sometimes even years, they have no symptoms of PTSD. Then, without warning, they suddenly start experiencing the classic signs of the affliction such as:

• Nightmares
• Flashbacks to the event
• Insomnia
• Difficulty concentrating
• Anger and irritability
• Avoidance and becoming ‘numb’ emotionally
• Feeling ‘on edge’ all the time

As scientists begin to understand this disorder, they are discovering that PTSD is nothing new and has been suffered by people throughout history. This goes some way towards dispelling the myth that people who suffer from PTSD are somehow ‘weak minded’ or ‘soft’.

For example, Thomas Heebøll-Holm, a historian at the University of Copenhagen, analysed three 14th century texts written by a French Knight called Geoffroi de Charny, who was also a diplomat and trusted adviser to King John II of France. After studying between the lines, Heebøll-Holm believes he can make a case for medieval knights suffering from some trauma due to their violent and relentlessly harsh lifestyle. Although the author showed no signs of PSTD, in his writing he often expressed concern about the mental wellbeing of other men. You can read more about his fascinating finds here.

Shell-shock is also a well known term, which was applied to soldiers during World War 1 who became hyper-sensitive to noise, dizzy, anxious and began to have tremors. It was initially thought these symptoms were brought on by neurological damage caused by exploding shells and gunfire (hence the term ‘shell-shock’). By 1916 more than 40% of all casualties were attributed to what seemed to be this new phenomenon, and around 350 men who displayed symptoms were executed for cowardice. We now know the horrors of trench warfare had an enormous emotional effect on veterans and 306 of the men who were executed received a group pardon for their alleged offences in 2006.

Why are some people vulnerable to PTSD and not others?

It is estimated around 50% of people will witness or be involved in a traumatic event at some point in their lives and thankfully, most people will cope well, even when confronted with horrendous situations. However, there are a percentage of people who never fully recover after a serious event. Many studies have been done to try and establish why some people, although they initially show some signs of anxiety, do OK in the wake of violence, natural disasters or car accidents and others develop severe, sometimes crippling PTSD.

There are biological differences between those who develop PTSD and those who do not. According to an article in the Nature Journal “functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), which tracks blood flow in the brain, has revealed that when people who have PTSD are reminded of the trauma, they tend to have an underactive prefrontal cortex and an overactive amygdala, another limbic brain region, which processes fear and emotion”.

Environmental factors are also thought to play a part in people’s recovery from trauma. Study after study has shown that social and community support acts as a cushion against PTSD. Religious practice and having a strong purpose in life have also been shown to aide recovery from PTSD.

There is much work to be done to ensure people who suffer from PTSD are not dismissed or seen as defective in some way. Some have stated that even using the word ‘disorder’ in the name is offensive, as post-traumatic stress is a natural reaction to terrible events.

If you suffer or have suffered from PTSD we can offer you helpful legal advice which may assist your situation, for more information visit our Post Traumatic Stress Disorder page. If you would rather speak to someone now about your claim, call us in complete confidence on 0845 345 4444, or fill in our contact form and we’ll get straight back to you.

PTSD: It’s Not Just Soldiers That Suffer

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is usually associated with the military, which isn’t surprising given the highly stressful conditions and traumatic experiences endured by our armed forces. But whilst the military certainly accounts for many cases, this devastating condition can strike people in any walk of life. Here are just a few examples.

Work-related PTSD

Many jobs carry risks, or require staff to be involved in incidents that can result in severe mental trauma. For example, after the 2007 London terrorist bombings, many emergency workers who attended the disaster locations later suffered psychological problems including PTSD. And when 33 miners were trapped for 69 days in a collapsed Chilean mine in 2010, all but one developed PTSD afterwards.

Crime-related PTSD

Victims of physical or sexual abuse, abduction, or other traumatic crimes can later be diagnosed with PTSD as they struggle to reclaim their lives. Similarly, a witness to a violent or horrific crime might find the experience stays with them, resulting in nightmares, depression and other symptoms of PTSD.

Medical PTSD

Studies have shown that stressful conditions in hospital emergency departments or Intensive Care Units can cause PTSD in patients. And according to the Birth Trauma Association, up to 10,000 women a year may develop PTSD as a result of a traumatic birth experience.

Accident-related PTSD

From car crashes to major transport incidents, travel-related accidents are a frequent cause of PTSD. On top of the usual symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares and panic attacks, people who have survived fatal incidents are often also hit by ‘survivor’s guilt’, which can cause severe depression.


Claiming compensation for PTSD

It’s not always possible to claim compensation for PTSD. But if you can show that the PTSD or other mental trauma was directly caused by someone else’s (or an organisation’s) actions, negligence or omission, then you may be entitled to make a claim.

Don’t feel guilty about claiming for PTSD. You deserve to receive compensation so you can access the support, treatment and counselling you need to get over your bad experience and move on with your life.


Choose Injury Lawyers 4U for ‘no win, no fee’ claims

Injury Lawyers 4U are expert personal injury lawyers with a wide experience of PTSD claims and we’ll give you free and impartial advice about the validity of your claim.

We work on a genuine ‘no win, no fee’ basis, so there’s nothing to lose if you want to proceed.  Call us today on 0845 345 4444 to discuss your claim, or complete our online form.