June 27 is PTSD Awareness Day (US). PTSD is a reaction to a traumatic event with long-lasting symptoms that disrupt a person’s life. It may lead to job loss, relationship troubles and the deterioration of one’s overall health – among other issues.
PTSD affects individuals from all walks of life depending on their life experiences. Paramedics, police officers, firefighters, veterans and other front-line employees might be affected by the work they do. But other experiences such as a sudden or traumatic accident resulting in the death of a loved one, sexual violence (including assault or abuse), still births and miscarriages later in the gestation period, and/or experiencing a serious injury may also bring on PTSD or significant symptoms of same. Other traumatic events may include natural disasters, war or conflict and being a victim of crime.
PSTD is considered a mental health disorder. Symptoms of PTSD may include re-experiencing the traumatic event through vivid nightmares, flashbacks or excessive thoughts of the event. Oftentimes, people may experience a change in their thoughts and mood – at times expressed through irritability and feeling ‘on edge’ or nervous. Some people may be startled easily, have a hard time concentrating or experience difficulties with sleep. Generally, an individual who suffers from PTSD may often feel like something terrible is about to happen and may experience a disassociation with self and their environment.
Many of the clients that I represent experience either significant symptoms of PTSD or have been diagnosed fully with PTSD and unfortunately have been denied short or long term disability benefits. Without proper care – medication, counselling and/or support groups – individuals may resort to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope. Getting the right support and treatment is paramount. Without their disability benefits, the ability to afford such treatment is next to impossible for most.