Posted by: Scared | 2009/03/06

Can I get fired for having panic attack

I have suffered from depression for 10 years and I have had panic attacks for 4 years now.

I was on medication but slowly I was weaned off of it by my GP after 2 years of taking it.

I am in a management position, although I started in invoicing, I was fast tracked to the position because they saw me as responsible, level headed, accurate and reliable.

I was going through a really rough patch at work - very stressful, lots of deadlines, working form 8am to 8pm because 2 of my staff members were ill and I had to do their work as well as my own. I complained and said I need more cover and I need more help but nothing was done and I ended up having a panic attack at work.

I started shaking and I literally felt something click in my head, I got very dizzy and my mind just went blank. I couldnt consentrate and I found myself reading and re-reading the same email 6 times still unable to understand what it said. I just started to cry - I really felt like I had lost my mind. (My normal panic attacks usually consited of shaking, nausea and vomiting - but its been 6 months since Ive had one)

My boss told me to go home because she would rather I was not in at all than to be in and cost them money because I make mistakes so I went to the doctor who explained that it was a panic attack and she put me on sleeping pills, an antidepressant and gave me alzam for panic. I took them all as she perscribed and I went to sleep and only woke up at 7am the next morning

I went back to work but I was so high from all the medication I couldnt consentrate again and I was sent home for the second day. On my way out I overheard my boss say that although I was first in line for another promotion I am now not going to get it. I know they are also thingking of getting rid of people because of the credit crunch (This is a UK based company) and I am terrified that I will be asked to leave - All I have going for me is my reputation and I feel like its been ruined.

Can I really lose my job over this? Its the first time it has happened to me at work.

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Our expert says:
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This is obviously primarily a question of labour law, and you should consult an experienced labour lawyer, and maybe the CCMA and Dept of Labour for advice on the very relevant legal aspects of this situation.
But no, nobody should be fired for having a panic attack, or an epileptic fit, or any other crisis related to a recognized medical condition they have ; especially not something which should respond really well to proper treatment ) again, see a psychiatrist for full assessment, but medication and CBT is likely to solve the problem ). Best not have something so important treated only by a GP.
And as you are describing also a question in which unreasonable demands were placed on you, and help you reasonably asked for was not provided and the problem ignored, the company should be considered significantly responsible for the attack occurring. SoI can't see how you could lose your job over this.
See the appropiate specialist, get into good treatment, and have the specialist write a letter to your employer clarifying that this was a recognized illness and related to excessive work strain, and should not be seen as indicating that you are not well able to handle the normal pressures of work in your current position or any promotion.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

Our users say:
Posted by: Ja | 2009/03/06

Your boss has no idea what she said. Discrimination and unfair work practices.
A workload not in your job description caused this. Sue them for causing the attack!

Reply to Ja
Posted by: TIny tim | 2009/03/06

You have rights , they cant just fire you if you have an ailment - dont fear them... .. remember CCMA

Reply to TIny tim
Posted by: panic | 2009/03/06

Hi there, panic attacks are all in the mind. When you feel one coming on - sit down and keep telling yourself over and over - " i am okay, its only a panic attack"  - take deep breaths - take calmettes they work. Good luck

Reply to panic
Posted by: tiny tim | 2009/03/06

no they cant fire you for having a panic attack.

Reply to tiny tim

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