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Can PTSD Affect My Ability to Work?

Can PTSD Affect My Ability to Work?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect nearly every aspect of daily life, and can be especially debilitating if left untreated. The pressure of work-related responsibilities may seem particularly heavy if PTSD is involved, as symptoms can make it difficult to remain concentrated, organized, and calm. Whether you’ve experienced a traumatic event firsthand, have witnessed a tragic event, or have been affected by a community-large disaster, the aftermath of PTSD can certainly affect your ability to work. According to Safety and Health Magazine, certain professions are at high-risk for developing PTSD due to repeated exposure to trauma. These professions are:

  • Military personnel
  • Paramedics and firefighters
  • Police
  • Dispatch receivers
  • Doctors and nurses
  • And more

Symptoms of PTSD may include flashbacks, nightmares, difficulty concentrating, feeling panicked or as though something terrible will happen, irritability and/or anger, being dissatisfied at work, and more. A 2016 article titled, “Recognizing and Accommodating Employees with PTSD” emphasized the common occurrence of substance use disorders (SUDs) alongside PTSD, which can have further negative consequences in the workplace. As some individuals may rely on alcohol or drugs to cope with undesirable thoughts or feelings associated with PTSD, their substance dependency may further cause them trouble at work, at home, and with their health. Depression is another disorder that can develop from or alongside PTSD, placing a professional at risk for increased absences and/or termination from their position.

The best way to find healing from trauma is to attend treatment. For PTSD, this may include medication, psychotherapy (both at the individual and group levels), and holistic practices such as meditation, yoga, and acupuncture. In psychotherapy, a professional can develop healthy coping mechanisms for managing symptoms when they arise. Common approaches used in this realm are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).

According to the Center for Workplace Mental Health, those with PTSD have higher rates of workplace absenteeism, higher number of medical visits, an increased likelihood of unemployment (or underemployment), lower hourly pay, and an increased difficulty in meeting the demands of the workplace. The best way to combat these issues is to seek help as soon as symptoms of PTSD are recognized. With the right tools, recovery is possible.

If you haven’t already, speak with someone from a professional treatment center to learn more about programs to best suit your needs. Optimal recovery is possible, and you are not alone in your pursuit for happiness, health, and wellbeing.

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