Psychological Effects of Work Injuries
April 12, 2019
Injuries can affect workers not only physically, but also psychologically. The psychological effects of a physical injury can manifest in anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other types of mental stress injuries. Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, employees may be eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits for mental injuries caused by a work-related physical stimulus.
Occupational Injuries May Lead to Depression
Studies show that depression is more prevalent among those who sustain workplace injuries than those who sustain non-occupational injuries. Also, workers who are recovering from physical injuries are more likely to experience post-injury depression, typically for up to three months after the injury occurs. However, the potentially serious and long-lasting impact of post-injury depression often goes unaddressed. This can compound workers’ injuries, prolong recovery time, and increase workers’ compensation expenses.
According to a study published in the Psychological Medicine journal, 18.1 percent of 248 injured worker participants were diagnosed with depression during the year following their injuries. Fifty-seven participants were diagnosed with other post-injury mental disorders including anxiety, mood disorders, substance abuse, and adjustment disorder.
Psychological Injuries Hinder Recovery
According to the study, depression increases the odds of a worker not returning to pre-injury baseline levels of function in areas such as activities of daily living, feeling healthful, and quality of social interactions. The study’s authors suggest that workers with minor injuries are also susceptible to post-injury depression. However, emergency and trauma providers are typically only prepared to address the psychological consequences of serious, life-threatening injuries.
Another study published in the BMC Public Health journal also examined the comorbidity of work injuries and depression. The study’s authors found that workers who experienced a workplace injury are 2.18 times more likely to be depressed than those who did not. The study also identified several factors that place workers at increased risk for depression following workplace trauma, including:
- Divorced, widowed, or separated marital status
- Female sex
- Functional activity limitation
- Lack of access to health care
- Low income
Mental Stress Injuries in Pennsylvania
The laws regarding mental stress workers’ compensation claims vary by state. In Pennsylvania, mental stress injuries are compensable under one of three standards: mental/mental, mental/physical, or physical/mental.
To prevail on a mental/mental claim, workers must show that they developed a mental injury due to a work-related psychological stimulus. If a worker sustained a physical injury due to a work-related mental injury, he or she may be able to claim compensation under the mental/physical standard. The physical/mental standard applies when a work-related physical stimulus causes a worker to suffer a psychological injury.
These types of workers’ compensation claims can be complex. Therefore, those seeking compensation for the psychological effects of their work injuries should speak to an experienced attorney in their local area.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help Clients Obtain Benefits for Psychological Injuries
If you have a work-related psychological injury, contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. You may be entitled to various types of workers’ compensation benefits, including medical expense and wage loss compensation. Our experienced attorneys proudly represent workers in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania in both physical and psychological workers’ compensation claims. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW today.
We proudly represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester and Wynnewood.