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Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Working Environment

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Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Working Environment

Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Working Environment

A post from our Stress Management blog

Article author: Riley Mitchell
      Written by Riley Mitchell
Work environments can be sources of high stress, even trauma, and people who experience such events in the workplace can develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result.
This condition can impact their mental and physical well-being, affecting their ability to perform their job, maintain relationships, and even engage in daily activities.

It's a genuine phenomenon for PTSD to be caused by a work environment, for which there are various treatment options available, and we'll discuss how to address and prevent distressing events in the workplace. 

We will also examine the statistics on PTSD and the cost of the condition for the individual and society. It's therefore essential to raise awareness of the condition and provide access to appropriate treatment for affected people.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that can develop after someone goes through or witnesses a distressing event. This can include things like combat, sexual or physical assault, accidents, and natural disasters, but it can also include events that happen in the workplace. 

PTSD can significantly affect someone's mental and physical well-being, causing disruptions in their ability to perform their job, maintain relationships and engage in daily activities.

The statistics on PTSD are concerning, as it is a prevalent condition that affects a significant portion of the population. The National Center for PTSD estimates that 8% of the U.S. population will have the condition at some point in their lives, which equates to over 24 million people.

A study by the RAND Corporation found that the annual cost of PTSD in the U.S. is estimated to be $42.3 billion. This includes costs associated with lost productivity, healthcare expenses, and disability payments.

Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The most common symptoms of PTSD can be grouped into four categories: re-experiencing symptoms, avoidance symptoms, adverse changes in mood, and increased arousal and reactivity.

Re-experiencing Symptoms

Re-experiencing symptoms can include flashbacks, which are vivid, involuntary, and distressing memories of the event. 

These can be triggered by seemingly unrelated events and can cause a person to feel like they are reliving the experience. Nightmares can also be so vivid that they can cause people to wake up feeling as if they are still in the middle of the event.

Avoidance Symptoms

Avoidance symptoms can include avoidance of places, people, or things that remind the person of the event. 

This can lead to social isolation, and a sufferer may avoid social activities, friends, or family members. They may also avoid talking about the event and may have difficulty remembering certain aspects.

Negative Changes in Mood and Cognition

Adverse changes in mood and cognition can include symptoms such as depression, anxiety, guilt, and shame. These can make it difficult for individuals to engage in activities they once enjoyed and can lead to feelings of hopelessness.

Increased Arousal and Reactivity

Increased arousal and reactivity can include irritability, anger, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbances. These can make it difficult for individuals to function in their daily lives, leading to problems with relationships, work, and other areas of life.

It is essential to be aware that symptoms of PTSD will often vary from person to person and can fluctuate in severity over time. Some people may show just a few signs, while others may show many. 

If you believe that you or someone you know may be experiencing symptoms, you should seek professional help as soon as possible. 

Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Treatment can include a combination of therapy and medication. But the most effective approach will depend on the individual and their specific symptoms.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that can help people understand and change the thoughts and behaviors that are contributing to their problems. 

This can include exposure therapy, which involves gradually exposing the person to reminders of the event in a controlled setting to help them to process and cope with their memories.
It can help them to learn how to manage their symptoms, control them, and change negative thoughts and behaviors associated with the event.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Another therapy that can be helpful for individuals with PTSD is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

This uses a technique that involves recalling the traumatic event while following the therapist's guidance to track eye movements, sounds, or taps. This technique is thought to help the brain process traumatic memories so that they are less distressing.


Medications can also be used to treat symptoms of PTSD. Antidepressants, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can help to reduce the levels of anxiety and depression which often accompany PTSD.
Other medications, such as Prazosin, an alpha-1 blocker, can help reduce nightmares and sleep disturbances.

Finding a therapist or healthcare provider with relevant experience who can create a treatment plan tailored to their specific needs is crucial. 

In addition to therapy and medication, it's important to address any other issues contributing to symptoms, like substance abuse or other mental health conditions.

PTSD is a treatable condition; with appropriate treatment, people can manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. But many people with PTSD do not receive treatment, often due to the stigma surrounding mental health conditions, lack of access to healthcare, and a lack of awareness of the situation.


Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a treatable condition that affects a significant proportion of the population and can also affect individuals who have experienced traumatic events in the workplace

It can have a significant impact on someone's mental and physical well-being and can even lead to other mental health conditions, as well as increasing the risk of substance abuse. 

The most effective treatment for PTSD caused by a work environment is thought to include a combination of therapy and medication, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy, and careful use of antidepressants. 

Employers are responsible for providing a healthy and safe work environment for their employees, including addressing and preventing traumatic events in the workplace. This can include training on how to recognize and respond to trauma and offer support and resources to employees who have experienced it.

It's important to raise awareness of PTSD and provide access to effective treatment for people affected by the condition. So by working together, individuals, employers, and healthcare providers really can help employees who are affected by PTSD to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

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