Can PTSD be caused by prolong exposure to highly stressful situation? For example, a very anxiety-provoking workplace where one is constantly anxious. Nightmares for 6 mos after leaving the job and other depression-like symptoms, and crying, shaking at the mention of returning to that profession. If SSRI's stop the suicidal thoughts and counseling works for returning to work but not back to the old profession, is that good enough? Do I have to go back to that profession or is it acceptable to let it go and persue another profession? The workplace was military, but not combat. I've submitted a claim for depression/anxiety r/t to that workplace, but I'm waiting for it to be processed. That could be up to 18 mos. Family thinks I should just go back to my old profession. But it terrifies me. Do I have to go back?
I'd like to add that I was diagnosed w/depression and anxiety by a colleague. (It was a medical unit) He said that the SSRI he was giving me was the one that half the medical staff took in order to come to work. But I stopped taking it 5 mos later. Didn't go back on SSRI until I became suicidal 10 yrs later. Meds and an awesome counselor got me back to normal. I completed counseling in 6 mos. But my family is a bit frustrated by my refusal to go back into my old profession. I've been working retail part-time since I completed counseling 3 yrs ago. Now I'm in school pursueing a second degree, this one in a completely different field. Is this the right way to move oon? Or do I need to go back into the old profession? Is this really PTSD and not depression and anxiety? I honestly feel wimpy thinking that this is PTSD because I wasn't in combat. It wasn't one major catastrophic event. It was a nightmare workplace. I mean who hasn't had a bad job?! How can this situation cause this? Please someone tell me if I'm completely off-base thinking this could be PTSD. My family dr is the one who first brought up the possibility.
Just a note, don't feel wimpy because you have these feelings. Sure, everybody has had a bad job, but there's a difference between a bad job and a nightmare job. I'm not sure if it was stress or poor treatment of the workers or the nature of the job that was so bad, but if half the people who do that job have to take medication to be able to come to work, you obviously aren't alone in the problem. Trauma is trauma, whether it is fast or slow, or involves emotional damage, or physical damage. Hopefully more of an expert than I can weigh in on this.
I now see the original question that you had posted. Generally, PTSD is a result of an extremely traumatic situation which could have resulted in permanent physical disability or death. In stressful situations, such as you may be experiencing or have experienced, I don't believe this would be diagnosed as PTSD. It could however be a stress-related disorder that might be disabling.
I'm not sure what profession you were in or whether or not you would be able to return to it and not experience, once again, a high level of stress despite the use of medication and counseling. Certainly, one of the things I believe that you may be required to present is medical documentation that is sufficient and of great enough length to indicate that you are, in some way, disable regarding future work.
As I read your post, it seems to me that there is some conflict regarding whether or not you will be able to return to some type of work in the future. I believe this should be discussed with whoever is your therapist and you may want to consider applying for some type of short-term disability benefits. I don't know if you are entitled to this type of benefit since you were working for the military and, I would assume, that would be a government position. Each state however does have disability payments but, again, because of your employment for the US government there may be some additional considerations here.
I know that your family means well, but they are not in your shoes and do not fully understand what you have been going through. If the work terrifies you, it wouldn't seem to me that it's likely a good fit for you. Consideration should be given to some other type of employment, if you are able to return to employment.
Thanks, Dr Ferrell, for your response. I was an RN. I have not worked as an RN since that job and start shaking and crying when I get calls from nurse recruiters. I am pursuing a second bachelors degree, this one in accounting. (Even my accounting professors laugh at me over how much I enjoy accounting.) My disability claim is through the VA. I do work in retail currently and absolutely love my job. Yesterday I was turned down for a job at a bank that I really wanted. Hurt a lot. I actually caught myself thinking about suicide. I called my health insurer for a referral to a counselor instead. I will meet the counselor this afternoon.
I think I can document the severity of the situation in that unit. There was a work climate survey done while I was there that the unit received an unsatifactory rating on. I was first diagnosed with depression/anxiety while assigned to the unit. I can show that my workload was between 3.5 and 4 Full-time-equivalents. I could also pull out the medical records that show the physical problems I had at the time related to stress. (GI tract bleeding) This is so frustrating as I am at heart a very cheerful person. I want a profession where I can be that person again.
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