Last Updated: 2/20/2024

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is commonly associated with soldiers in combat, but it can also affect individuals who experience traumatic events at work. In Iowa, workers facing PTSD after a workplace injury may be entitled to Workers' Compensation. Recognizing signs of work-related PTSD and knowing how to support affected loved ones is important while dealing with this challenging condition.

Recognizing Work-Related PTSD

People who have PTSD may lose interest in activities that they once enjoyed and may seem emotionally detached, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Work-related PTSD sufferers might:

  • suffer nightmares or flashbacks of the traumatic event
  • complain of depression
  • feel overwhelming anxiety
  • be jumpy or scared easily
  • have a substance abuse problem

According to Dr. Kathleen Brady, MD, PhD of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, women may be more likely to exhibit avoidance and numbness associated with PTSD.

Men, meanwhile, may be more likely to suffer from irritability and impulsiveness. Men may also be more likely to have substance abuse disorders, while women may be more likely to have mood and anxiety disorders.

Keep in mind a few things if you think you may have PTSD or have been diagnosed with it:

  • PTSD symptoms can develop quickly or slowly after a traumatic event in which your life was put in danger.
  • Some signs and symptoms include anxiety, grief, anger, feeling lonely, sleep issues, feeling out of control, etc. People with PTSD may feel disconnected from the world and lose their meaning and purpose in life.
  • Many PTSD sufferers relive the trauma through flashbacks, and nightmares, avoiding people or places that bring back the memories of the trauma and/or constantly feeling on edge.
  • PTSD is not a result of moral failure or weakness in character but is a real condition caused by biological and physiological mechanisms.
  • Everyone is different some people who sustain the same trauma can have very different reactions to it including developing PTSD or not.

The good news is that there are many ways to treat PTSD including individual and/or group psychotherapies, medications, etc.

Recognizing these signs is an important first step to helping your loved one cope with the symptoms and getting him or her professional help.

Tips for Supporting Someone with PTSD

Supporting a loved one with PTSD involves learning about the condition, attending appointments, and creating opportunities for enjoyable activities.

The following are some tips that may help your loved one cope with the condition:

  • be a good listener: listen without pushing for revelations or solutions. If your loved one needs to stop, don’t push him or her to keep going
  • make an appointment to talk with your loved one: arrange a time and place to talk about the accident or its effects. Choose a comfortable setting that doesn’t have a lot of distractions. But be available for any spur of the moment talks your loved one requests
  • bring in a professional: help your loved one obtain effective talk therapy or other PTSD treatment with a therapist who specializes in PTSD. A doctor should be able to recommend a therapist
  • take suicide threats seriously - some patients who suffer PTSD may suffer from suicidal thoughts. If your loved one talks about it or makes threats, get professional help right away. In cases of immediate danger, call 911 and explain the circumstances
  • get rid of dangerous items - remove guns and other weapons from the house. Also, try to keep your home free of substances like pills and alcohol that are easy to abuse and that alter the decision-making process.

Family Support and Counseling

PTSD not only impacts the individual but also affects family members. Counseling and therapy can provide a supportive space for families to discuss the challenges of living with PTSD and address their own mental health needs. Caregivers must prioritize self-care and seek assistance when necessary.

Workers’ Compensation for PTSD

Workers who develop PTSD due to work-related injuries may be eligible for compensation benefits. However, proving the connection between the workplace accident and mental illness can be challenging. Consulting with an experienced Iowa Workers’ Compensation attorney can provide guidance in navigating the claims process and ensuring fair compensation.

Navigating Insurance Company Tactics

Insurance companies may employ tactics to downplay or deny PTSD claims, such as ignoring mental health issues or selecting biased healthcare providers. Understanding these strategies and seeking legal support can help individuals secure the necessary medical care and compensation for their condition.

1. The insurance company, nurses, and their doctors will simply ignore the mental health issues that you are having including PTSD. You should bring up all of the problems you are having because of the work injury, but do not be surprised if the doctor says "I am only treating you for your (insert your injury, e.g. arm, shoulder, back, neck, leg, etc.).

If this has happened to you, there are several ways that we can help you get the medical care and treatment that you need for your PTSD and may also be able to obtain additional financial compensation for you.

2. You complain about mental health problems such as PTSD so the insurance company decides to send you to one of their bought and paid-for mental health providers. There are several psychiatrists and psychologists in Iowa who will say whatever the insurance company wants them to for a price.

3. The insurance company will ask that their treating authorized physician refer you to a reputable mental health provider. This is the least likely thing to happen in your case because it may cost the insurance company more money. I know, why wouldn't the insurance company want to help you so you get better and they likely end up paying less money in the long run? However, this is not how profit-driven insurance companies think.

If you or a loved one is having mental health issues following trauma the best thing you can do is to get help with a qualified mental health professional as soon as possible. While PTSD may get better on its own with time, at the very minimum you should get it checked out so it does not get worse.

Suffering from PTSD can be an isolating experience, but there are millions of other people dealing with similar problems and there are resources available to help you get your life back. If you do not have anyone else to turn to and are even considering hurting yourself, then please get help or at least call 800-273-8255 to speak with a trained person at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are not comfortable calling someone on the phone for more information go to

Educational Resources and Support

Educating oneself about PTSD, its symptoms, and available treatments is essential for individuals and their families. Seeking help from qualified mental health professionals and utilizing resources like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can provide crucial support during challenging times.

If you or a loved one is struggling with work-related PTSD in Iowa, seeking assistance from a knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation attorney can help you understand your rights and pursue fair compensation. Our team of lawyers will fight on your behalf for medical and disability benefits so you can get your life back on track.

We can also appeal the decision if your claim is denied. Be sure to take a look at our free book, Iowa Workers’ Compensation – An Insider’s Guide to Work Injures: 7 Deadly Mistakes, and call 641-792-3595 to schedule a free consultation.

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Corey Walker
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With over 28 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.