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PTSD and Working

Working while dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be a difficult task, but depending on the severity of your symptoms and the nature of the job, it is possible. I know from experience.


PTSD is a disorder that occurs after experiencing a traumatic event. It can cause a person to experience flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts. It can also lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and fear. People with PTSD may also experience problems with memory and concentration, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty socializing. It can be tough to focus on work, keep up with deadlines, and interact with colleagues and clients. If you have suffered major trauma, it is important to recognize the signs of PTSD and to seek help from a mental health professional in recovery.


The good news is that not everyone experiences all the symptoms of PTSD, or experiences them only occasionally and to varying degrees. PTSD should not be stigmatized as somehow making one unable to hold a good job. That is simply not true for the majority of trauma survivors.


As you think about returning to work after trauma, it is important to be brutally honest with yourself about whether your job is manageable. Wishful thinking sets you up for failure. But sometimes relatively minor changes in your role or responsibilities can make a big difference. In most cases, you’ll benefit by being honest with your employer as well. Many employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations. For example, your employer may be able to provide greater flexibility in your schedule, allow you to work remotely, avoid long-distance travel, allow a support animal in the office, give you special access to a break room, or share employee benefits or assistance programs that you might not have been aware of.


Practicing good self-care is particularly important if you are working while recovering from PTSD. This includes getting enough sleep, taking any prescribed medication on schedule, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and engaging in activities that help to reduce stress. It is also important to take breaks throughout the day and to recognize when it is necessary to take time off.


Although working while dealing with PTSD can be challenging, it is possible to manage symptoms and to stay productive. For many people, working can be therapeutic. It represents normality and helps us connect or reconnect with others in an environment that isn’t emotionally charged. It can help to divert our minds from the pain and worries associated with our trauma. And it can give us a real sense of accomplishment, productivity and possibility.


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