PTSD: The Causes and Available CompensationIn the immediate aftermath of a shocking or terrifying event, most people feel anxious, scared, or sad. However, when these feelings continue or interfere with your daily life, then you may be suffering from a recognized mental health condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

You should talk to your doctor about PTSD if you:

  • Feel so overwhelmed by life that you cannot function normally day to day.

  • Have considered hurting yourself or others.

  • Cannot seem to control your behavior.

  • Are experiencing trouble eating or sleeping.

  • Are depressed.

  • Have trouble with memory and concentration.

  • Have begun to rely on alcohol or other mood-altering substances to make it through the day.

There is help available.

PTSD Among Veterans

Veterans suffer PTSD at a rate that is higher than the incidence of PTSD among the general population. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, in any given year:

  • About 11 to 20 percent of veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom suffer PTSD.

  • About 12 percent of Gulf War veterans suffer PTSD.

  • About 15 percent of Vietnam War veterans suffer PTSD.

Other veterans also suffer PTSD. The causes of PTSD among veterans come from horrific war experiences, military sexual trauma, and other traumatic events. However, veterans are not the only ones to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD Can Happen to Anyone

According to the National Center for PTSD, approximately eight percent of the U.S. population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. The percentage is slightly higher for women and slightly lower for men, though people of any gender can suffer from this condition.

In any given year, approximately eight million people in the United States suffer from PTSD. While they have all gone through unique traumas and suffer individual symptoms, some common events can cause PTSD and there are some common effects for people who suffer from PTSD.

Common Causes of PTSD

The specific cause of this disorder is unknown, and the events that can trigger the condition can vary substantially. However, ongoing research into the condition has begun to show the following patterns of susceptibility:

  • Those who suffer from depression or anxiety are more likely to develop the condition than those who do not already have a mental condition.

  • Those who live through a life-threatening or terrifying event—whether in childhood or adulthood—have an increased risk of feeling guilt and anxiety associated with the trauma.

  • Those who witness a serious accident, terrorist incident, sudden death of a loved one, others being hurt or killed war, or violent personal assaults (such as rape) are found to suffer PTSD on a more severe level than other sufferers.

  • Those who have little or no social support after the event are more likely to develop the condition than those with a strong support system.

  • Those who must deal with extra stress or anxiety immediately following the trauma are more likely to experience PTSD. Although these individuals may have been able to overcome the effects of the event itself, additional hardships such as physical injuries or loss (death of a loved one, destruction of property) can cause the pain to linger and manifest into PTSD.

  • Those who endure concussive brain injuries during their traumatic events may damage brain tissue, which could make them more sensitive to suffering PTSD.

Experiencing a dangerous event is not the only way to develop PTSD. In fact, some people suffer from PTSD as a result of a friend or family member experiencing the danger or harm.

Lingering Problems for PTSD Sufferers

In PTSD cases, the natural response of anxiety and fear does not end when the situation resolves itself. The feelings become linked to the event in such a way that any reminder of the incident can cause those feelings to resurface at full force. The acute anxiety brought on by the episodes, which can occur at any time, can affect the victim’s ability to function in daily life—including as a member of the workforce.

According to the Mayo Clinic, people living with PTSD are more likely to suffer from other mental health conditions, such as:

  • Depression and anxiety.

  • Drug and alcohol abuse.

  • Eating disorders.

  • Suicidal thoughts or actions.

PTSD alone—or together with any of these other mental health conditions—can make it difficult to maintain a job.

What Happens If You Are Unable Work

Given the severity of PTSD, the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes it as a disabling condition. However, in order to be considered for PTSD disability benefits, you must prove that you have the condition and you must explain how it affects your ability to work. 

If you have post-traumatic stress disorder, then you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. Contact our office today to learn more about your filing options and how to successfully convince the SSA that your condition is worthy of benefit consideration.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer