Oftentimes, car accidents will result in catastrophic physical injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, internal injuries, paralysis, or even death. However, the emotional trauma that many people endure in the midst of a serious car accident can have lasting psychological effects. In some cases, emotional trauma can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This psychological condition is so common that statistics show that up to 10% of car accident victims are affected by PTSD.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
PTSD is a psychiatric condition that occurs in some who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. When someone is in a dangerous or threatening situation which causes them to respond with fear, horror or helplessness, a part of the brain called the amygdala becomes engaged. The amygdala is a part of the brain that evaluates stress and produces a “fight or flight” response, sends out danger signals, calms you down once the threat has dissipated, and stores the memories of the trauma. For those who develop PTSD, sights, sounds, smells associated with the trauma can trigger the amygdala to produce a danger signal and prepare the body for flight or fight. PTSD is most often associated with combat soldiers, victims of sexual abuse or violence and those who have experienced warfare. Additionally, victims of serious car accidents and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can also suffer from PTSD.
Some of the signs of PTSD following a car accident include the following symptoms: hypervigilance, depression, anxiety, fear, violent actions, flashbacks, nightmares, hallucinations, emotional numbness or detachment, irritability, lack of concentration, memory loss, avoidance of people or places that remind the person of the car accident, and continued feelings of helplessness. It is common to feel anxious following a car accident and scared to get behind the wheel again. However, PTSD is much different in that the symptoms continue for over a month and can even get worse over time. Finally, and most importantly, PTSD must be diagnosed by a physician or a mental health professional and can only be diagnosed with the symptoms are present for at least one month.
Can PTSD be Prevented?
In many cases, PTSD can’t be prevented. In fact, some people are naturally and genetically predisposed to the development of PTSD following a traumatic event. If someone has any kind of prior psychological challenges, lack of friends of family, or a family history of mental illness, they may have a tendency to develop PTSD in their lifetime.
However, anyone can receive a PTSD diagnosis following a car accident. Many car accidents are seriously traumatic and can leave lasting psychological scars on victims.
Are There Any Treatments for PTSD?
If you feel your anxiety, depression, or fear following a car accident is not improving, you should seek treatment from a specialist, doctor or mental health professional as soon as possible. The sooner you obtain a diagnosis of PTSD, the sooner you can receive a treatment plan. Like all other psychological conditions, PTSD may take a while to work through, and it will likely be a challenge. However, obtaining a diagnosis of PTSD is not necessarily one that needs to be life-long or permanent. Make sure you visit with the right physicians and mental health therapists to help you develop a plan. Oftentimes, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, exposure therapy, relational therapy, or group therapy can truly help those suffering from PTSD.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Today
If you were involved in a car accident in Kansas or Missouri and are suffering from PTSD, contact an experienced and compassionate lawyer at Griggs Injury Law at (816) 474-0202 to help you determine how best to move forward with your case.