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What is traumatic incident stress?

When you're at work, there are several kinds of injuries you can suffer from. You often hear about traumatic injuries that are physical in nature, but there are also psychological wounds that can make it difficult for you to work effectively. When you suffer from traumatic incident stress, you should be able to get the same kinds of workers' compensation as when you're physically hurt.

Often, it's those who respond to emergencies who suffer from this kind of stress. People like first responders who encounter victims of terrible fires, earthquakes or explosions see first hand the terror and anguish of those situations. It's enough to leave a mark on anyone, and for some, traumatic stress is a result.

Traumatic stress can be identified by physical symptoms as well and emotional. Severe pain, chest pain, or symptoms of shock can occur; severe emotional stress can cause real physical harm to a person's body, triggering heart attacks or other conditions.

Those suffering from stress may also show cognitive symptoms like disorientation, nightmares, poor concentration or lowered alertness. Emotionally, they may be filled with guilty or anxiety; they could be grieving or in a severe panic. Sometimes no symptoms appear until later, which is then known as post-traumatic stress.

When others notice a person withdrawing from normal activities or picking up unusual habits, like drinking heavily, after a stressful event, it can be a sign that help is needed. The worker in question should receive a psychological evaluation as well as a physical one. Not doing this could put his or her life at risk or make it harder to get help later on. If an employer doesn't want to make a workers' compensation claim for this condition, an attorney may be able to help.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Traumatic Incident Stress," accessed Dec. 24, 2015

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