Kate Oldfield Discusses Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The symptoms of PTSD have been around for a very long time.  Sadly, it has not always been taken seriously. During World War I it was referred to as shell shock or traumatic neurosis and even linked to cowardice in the battlefield.  Very little about the condition was understood and it was thought to be just a type of anxiety.

Medical science has now moved on thank goodness and the disorder is understood to be caused by trauma and/or stress.  In the past, it was assumed that it could only be caused by a life threatening event such as war or torture. More recently it has been discovered that it can even be caused by quite normal life events.

There can be a wide range of causes for the disorder and also a wide range of symptoms.  It can be caused by witnessing a very traumatic death or alternatively from a simple car accident.  PTSD is diagnosed usually by a number of criteria:

a) The patient must have been exposed to actual or threatened serious injury;

b) They now experience intrusive thoughts, memories, nightmares or flashbacks;

c) The patient may try to avoid anything related to the memory of the event;

d) The patient becomes very negative in mood;

e) They experience other symptoms such as difficulty in concentrating, irritability, and difficulty falling or staying asleep;

f) The symptoms must have been present for at least a month and have a serious effect on a person’s day to day life.

Recent America research suggests that between 75% to 90% of the US population has been exposed to a significant traumatic event which could be capable of leading to the symptoms of PTSD. Quite a scary statistic.  The research also showed that approximately 8% of the US population will develop PTSD at some point in their life.  It is therefore not a rare condition nor is it only related to extreme events.

Treatment is complex and requires psychological therapy with medication and so it is vital that the patient receives specialist mental healthcare.  One of the difficulties for solicitors dealing with this condition is that it is impossible to say when the condition will subside and some patients are likely to become chronic sufferers.  At Davis Blank Furniss we always suggest that a medical report should not be obtained unless six months have passed since the incident and a trial of psychological and pharmacological intervention has taken place.

Also solicitors need to be aware as some clients may suffer a delayed reaction, sometimes triggered years after the first event when they undergo a similar experience. Also because of its very nature many of the patients concerned do not wish to discuss the problems that they are experiencing and the condition can go untreated.   It is very easy to miss a non-visible injury.

Sadly, the treatment is not widely available on NHS and it is often the norm for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to have a waiting list of up to two years. If – however – you have suffered from this condition as a result of an accident or negligent treatment it is possible to claim the cost of treatment on a private basis.

At Davis Blank Furniss we can usually obtain an interim payment for you.  This could be used to discharge the cost of this expensive treatment and you can start upon the road to recovery.

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