Examining the Link Between Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Severe Injuries

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness brought on by the occurrence of a traumatic event. It can cause anxiety that is severe enough to interfere with daily activities, and if left untreated it can have a detrimental effect on a person’s overall wellbeing.

According to a study done by the University of Washington, approximately 20 percent of people who suffer severe injuries will go on to develop some level of PTSD, as indicated by surveys taken one year after the initial hospital visit. The study involved more than 2700 patients from nearly 70 hospitals, and ultimately concluded that people who suffer a serious injury that requires hospitalization tend to deal with impairments in every aspect of life, including health status, social relationships, and career development.

Possible Prevention and Mitigation During Hospital Stays

The research also suggested that the way a patient is treated in the hospital after being injured may play a significant role in whether they are likely to develop PTSD and/or depression. Apparently, the neurological connections and memories that are being formed in the days and weeks after the incident are crucial in determining how long the memory will haunt the victim subconsciously, and how well they’ll be able to cope with it. These revelations are leading many physicians to recommend psychological therapy sessions, and have led to many negligence and malpractice cases being filed against medical staff who failed to fulfil their sympathetic duties.

Subsequent Depression and Social Consequences

About 6% of severely injured patients — about a third of those who develop PTSD — will also suffer from clinical depression. The unfortunate 30% of PTSD sufferers who are also diagnosed with depression are twice as likely to have significant career problems, as indicated by a decreased rate of returning to work or finding new employment one year after the injury. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of dealing with PTSD is that the patient is often not aware that their depression and anxiety is being caused by subconscious memories that their brain has been unable to sufficiently repress. They may not even see the correlation between their mood changes and the event that brought about the onset of the condition. Thus, in many cases the official diagnosis of PTSD propels the patient into further depression, denial, and uncertainty.

Potential Therapy and Treatment Options

Unfortunately, if proper care is not taken to nurture the mental state of a patient in the days and weeks after a traumatic event it is often difficult to loosen the stronghold of anxiety/depression that follows. Therapy sessions can be costly, time-consuming, and in some cases can cause even more depression as the patient may have feelings of being a societal outcast because of their need for therapy. The most successful treatments involve a combination of lifestyle/environmental changes (including forming new hobbies and interacting socially), guided therapy sessions, and optimal diet.

Study Source: http://depts.washington.edu/hiprc/Newsroom/2008/0908nr.html


Written by Jane Robinson, a health journalist and passionate blogger who specializes in physical and mental therapy. If you believe you’ve been the victim of negligence while receiving treatment for a severe injury, she recommends that you seek the professional counsel of personal injury specialists, like the attorneys at Clear Law Online.

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