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Do Car Accidents Cause PTSD?

Nov 17, 2015

Getting into an auto accident can be an extremely upsetting experience for anyone, especially if an injury or death was involved. It is completely normal for car accident victims to go through a range of emotions, from guilt and anger, to fear and depression.

But what happens when those feelings don’t go away months or even years after a serious crash? In some instances, these may be symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Symptoms of PTSD After a Car Crash:

  • Re-experiencing – This is where the victim mentally relives the accident over and over. Flashbacks, bad dreams or frightening thoughts accompanied by profuse sweating or a racing heart may be symptoms of re-experiencing.
  • Avoidance – These are conscious or subconscious attempts to avoid things that might remind the victim of the crash. Feelings of emotional numbness, memory troubles, social withdrawal, and strong feelings of guilt, depression or anxiety are all symptoms of avoidance.
  • Hyperarousal – These are constant feelings of uneasiness and always being on edge. Being easily startled, difficulty sleeping or having outbursts of anger that make it difficult to do daily tasks are hyperarousal symptoms.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a person must exhibit a combination of the above symptoms for at least one month to be diagnosed with PTSD. The symptoms must also be severe enough to make daily life difficult; impacting work, school, social relationships and the ability to take care of important responsibilities.

Auto Accidents are Leading Cause of PTSD

Although most people think of PTSD being exclusively associated with combat veterans, anyone who has experienced a traumatic event can be affected by this condition. Survivors of physical assault, domestic abuse, rape, natural disasters and many other distressful experiences can get PTSD. In fact, traffic accident are the leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder since the end of the Vietnam War.

Without proper treatment, PTSD can haunt people throughout their lives. Victims should speak with a qualified mental health professional to get an accurate diagnosis. Finding support groups, family services and employee assistance programs can also help.

If you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD following a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Peterson & Associates, P.C. today for a free consultation. We will work to get you the justice you deserve.

Categories: Auto Accidents

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