Traumatic Stress in the Workplace

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Traumatic Stress in the WorkplacePTSD, also known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a common problem among people all over the world. It can be a risky disorder that puts a stop to one’s normal daily life. One of the many vital areas that PTSD has its affect on is the workplace or office of a patient. There are many PTSD patients who are quite able to work properly and are working at a performance level where they don’t have to worry about leaving work; some successfully, and some just barely. The level of success one has at his or her place of employment depends on many factors including the level of impairment, and support outside and inside the work environment. As many have restricted learning of PTSD, a short synopsis will be given here.

Symptoms at work

PTSD has a variety of symptoms and effects. PTSD can affect the patient in many ways when he or she is in the office and trying to concentrate on something. It can be activated or exacerbated by the work environment. The list is abbreviated as each individual has his or her particular sets of reactions, skills for coping with something, along with a suitable work environment. Some examples of problems associated with the workplace for those who have PTSD are:

  • Memory problems
  • Lack of concentration
  • Physical problems
  • Poor interactions with co-workers
  • Difficulty retaining information
  • Feelings of fear or anxiety
  • Absenteeism
  • Inconvenience staying awake
  • Panic attacks
  • Unreasonable reactions to situations that trigger memories


Accommodating an employee with PTSD can be perplexing and is novel for each individual. What may be useful for one individual may not be useful for the following. First and foremost, it is important for the employer to be educated on PTSD and its symptoms. Learning can lead to understanding reactions, which may seem out of the ordinary. It can also give a framework to adapting the work environment to suit the needs of the individual with PTSD.

Duties of the supervisors

Some things that supervisor can do to assist the employee with PTSD are;

Listen to the employee’s limitations related to employment performance. For instance, if a woman has a history of sexual assault that happened during the late hours and is afraid of walking alone, she may ask for assistance and request to have someone walk her to her car during the evening. She may even request not to work after dark.

Identify specifically how you can assist. The best way to find out how you can assist someone is to ask. This may be something that develops over the long haul as the employee may not be aware of limitations until he or she runs into them. An open dialog about how the employer can assist would be useful from the earliest starting point. Some survivors of abuse will feel embarrassed to admit they need help, so it is important to continue asking. You want to balance this and insure that you are making yourself available versus being excessively persistent and aggressive.