Your injury may not be readily visible to the eye, but you can no longer face the idea of going to work every day. In fact, your post-traumatic stress disorder has you so anxious, there are days you aren't sure you can get out of bed, especially since the event that triggered your condition occurred at your workplace. You have considered quitting, but you need your paycheck to survive. So what should you do?
Seek Mental Professional Help
If you have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event at work and are now experiencing the following symptoms, you could have post-traumatic stress disorder and should seek help from a mental health professional:
- Flashbacks. The traumatic incident replays over and over again in your mind.
- Trouble sleeping and recurring nightmares about the incident.
- Feeling numb or in shock. You can find no pleasure in activities that you used to make you happy.
- A change in your personality. You are more irritable, angry or afraid after the incident than you were before it occurred.
- Suicidal feelings or feeling as if you just don't care if you live or die anymore.
What Qualifies as a Post-Traumatic Stress Event in the Workplace?
There is no clear-cut answer to this question. Any traumatic incident such as a robbery or a hostage situation could trigger this condition. But it can also be caused by issues you might not traditionally think of as related to post-traumatic stress disorder. For example, in July 2014, an employee was awarded worker's compensation benefits after he was threatened by a coworker's husband. The affected worker had called his coworker at home to ask her a work-related question, which caused the husband to believe that the two were having an affair. The jealous husband even tried to have the affected worker murdered. All of the stress triggered post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in the worker and he could no longer work.
Talk to Your Employer
It's important to let your employer know about your post-traumatic stress disorder and to ask for workplace accommodations to help you deal with your condition. For example, after a teller was robbed at gunpoint by a bank robber in Merced, California, she asked the financial institution if it would make accommodations that her doctor had recommended. Unfortunately, the employer did not follow through, and so the woman was awarded $800,000 in damages. Accommodations could include:
- Moving you to another location. If your employer has multiple sites, it's possible that a move away from the site where the traumatic event occurred could bring down your stress levels.
- Changing your position. For example, if you have been robbed at gunpoint like the teller in Merced and no longer feel comfortable dealing with the public, you could ask your employer to change your position so that you don't have to work with customers face-to-face.
- Allowing time off for mental health conditioning, as necessary.
Seek Legal Help
Unfortunately, not every employer will work with an employee that is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. If your employer is one of them, and you are no longer able to work because of your condition, then you may have to seek the help of a worker's compensation attorney to help you recover your lost wages and other possible damages. It's important to pursue legal action even if your employer tries to convince you that your condition is not related to the workplace. An experienced attorney can help you determine whether they are right or if you have a legitimate case.
Workplace-related post-traumatic stress can be very devastating, so if you feel that you are suffering from this condition, you should definitely ask your employer for help. If they won't work with you, then you will need to seek legal counsel. Go to website to contact a workers compensation attorney for help.