PTSD, short for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a condition caused by seeing or experiencing a traumatic event in your past. This condition cannot be cured, but treatments can help you manage your symptoms. With more than 3 million cases in the United States each year, this mental health diagnosis is becoming more and more common. It was first brought to light by veterans returning from war but can be caused by a variety of traumatic events in your life, including malpractice or negligence from a trusted medical professional.
A Real Life Example
Rhonda, a 39-year-old mother of four, has a PTSD case caused by her last birth experience. Her labor was induced by her then-trusted obstetrician at 37 weeks. However, there was no real medical reason for the induction. After her water was artificially broken to speed up her labor so that her doctor could get to his golf tournament, her baby’s heart rate dropped. She was rushed to the operating room for an emergency c-section. Rhonda did not have an epidural and was still wide awake when her doctor began making his incision. She screamed and writhed in pain but she was tied to the operating table, and her desperate pleas fell on deaf ears. After asking the doctor to wait, her anesthesiologist put her under general anesthesia.
She fell asleep, and although she was out of pain, she would miss witnessing the birth of her 4th and final family member. This created problems bonding with her child and caused her to have postpartum depression and PTSD. She now has flashbacks of this scary and painful event. Sometimes they are so severe that she is unable to care for her children, led alone herself.
Other Types of Malpractice and Negligence Causing PTSD
Rhonda’s story is just one example of negligence or malpractice that can cause a PTSD case. Other examples can include situations involving:
- Stillbirths and miscarriages;
- Surgery on the wrong surgical site;
- Performing procedures and treatments without regard to the patient’s level of pain;
- Continuing with a procedure, treatment, or an exam when the patient has apparently requested the medical professional to stop;
- Death of a loved one undergoing medical treatment;
PTSD can present itself in a variety of ways. It can also start with individual symptoms and change over time. You will likely not experience all of these symptoms nor will you have the same as someone else. Common conditions include:
- Flashbacks of the event happening again that seem very real and disturbing;
- Trouble sleeping;
- Severe emotional reactions to similar situations or events, even those seen on television or a movie;
- Feeling numb or detached;
- Getting scared or startled easily;
- Trouble concentrating;
- Feeling anxious;
- Chronic headaches;
Many people find these symptoms to be extreme to the point of being debilitating at times.
Although PTSD may be a lifelong diagnosis, it can be managed, and symptoms can become less frequent and severe with the help of several different treatments. It is best to talk to your doctor and your psychologist or psychiatrist about what medication might be ideal for your particular PTSD case. While talking about your emotions, fears, and experiences can be difficult, doing it can help ease the pain.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy has shown to be the most efficient counseling module for victims of negligence and malpractice suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. With this type of treatment, your therapist will help you change your understanding and your thinking regarding the trauma you have experienced and its aftermath. You seek to understand how your thoughts about your situation are potentially causing you more stress and making your symptoms worse. This therapy will help you identify what you could not have changed about the situation.
Exposure therapy is based on the theory that people learn to be afraid of situations, thoughts, and feelings that remind them of a traumatic event in their past. The goal of exposure therapy is to have less fear when it comes to your memories of the traumatic event. This treatment involves talking about your trauma with a therapist. By doing this, you will likely become desensitized to what has happened, which will help you learn that you do not have to be afraid of your memories and thoughts. Your therapist may also have you practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises.
Another effective treatment is known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Like other therapies, its goal is to change the way you react to the thoughts and memories surrounding your traumatic event. During this therapy, you talk about your experiences while focusing on other stimuli such as sounds, hand taps, and eye movements.
Certain medications can be prescribed, usually in conjunction with other external therapies. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiolytics such as Zoloft, Celexa, Prozac, Paxil, and Lexapro are commonly prescribed to help manage symptoms. These medications work to increase the levels of certain chemicals in the brain like oxytocin, serotonin or dopamine. Increasing these chemicals can improve your mood and decrease anxiety.
Group and Family Therapy
Although they are used less frequently, group and family therapy can sometimes help you with treating your symptoms. In group therapy, you discuss your thoughts, memories, and emotions with other patients. For some people, making connections like these can help. Family therapy involves your entire family and focuses on how this condition is affecting your whole dynamic. Family members discuss how your diagnosis is changing their lives, and they can learn more about your condition and how they can help you.
It is important to remember that a treatment plan must be individualized. Just as no patient will experience this condition the same way that another person will, effective treatment modalities will vary for each patient as well.
If you believe you are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of trauma caused by malpractice or negligence, this is the perfect time to contact Law Offices of Vastola & Associates. Their professional legal team can help you navigate this difficult period in your life and contribute to ensuring that you can afford the treatment you need. Our experts have a thorough understanding of PTSD and can set up a case that will help you receive the proper and adequate compensation for the situation you’ve experienced.