Dealing With PTSD Following After an Car Accident?
People involved in serious car accidents have been known to suffer injuries resulting in broken bones, whip-lash, minor cuts, and bruises. However, the emotional trauma of a car accident can be just as devastating as the physical wounds. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or “PTSD”, can affect your relationships, career, and enjoyment in life.
Did you know that car wrecks are the leading cause of PTSD in the United States? Many people who are involved in a car accident do not know they’re suffering symptoms of PTSD after a serious accident. Here’s how that kind of diagnosis affects a car accident claim.
WHAT IS PTSD?
PTSD is a psychological condition that can affect people who have been through particularly harrowing experiences. The common thread through all cases of PTSD is that the victim has suffered or witnessed a traumatic, stressful, or fear-inducing incident. PTSD itself is a pathological anxiety disorder that basically occurs when the brain is unable to properly turn off the fight-or-flight reactions and anxieties associated with a traumatic event.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU SUFFER FROM PTSD AFTER AN ACCIDENT?
If you are suffering any symptoms of PTSD following a car accident, you should consult with a physician and any recommended specialist to get the treatment you may need, just as you would with any other kind of car accident injury. You should always consult an experienced personal injury attorney as the effects of PTSD might be included in any damages claim you may wish to make.
When it comes to PTSD-like symptoms after a car accident, keep in mind that it is almost certainly not in your best interest to settle your car accident case immediately. You never want to settle until you have a clear sense of the nature and extent of your injuries. And since mental health treatment can be long-lasting in the wake of any kind of trauma, it’s wise to hold off reaching any kind of settlement agreement until you have a complete picture of your losses.
KNOW THE SYMPTOMS OF PTSD
For most people who are in a car accident, the overwhelming feelings go away over time. Sometimes those feelings don’t go away. They can change the way you think and act. Strong feelings that stay with you for a long time and get in the way of everyday life are signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. If you have PTSD after a car accident, you may have some of the following symptoms:
• Reliving the accident through nightmares and flashbacks.
• Sleep problems or inability to concentrate.
• Being afraid to drive or ride in a vehicle.
• Feeling persistent depression or hopelessness.
• Being unable to remember details about the crash.
• Placing irrational blame on yourself or feeling guilty about the accident.
Though the symptoms of how they come to the surface, PTSD is characterized by four primary types of symptoms:
• Arousal – constant alertness, which can include sleep disturbance, hyper-vigilance, paranoia, and inability to focus.
• Numbing – the victim keeps an emotional distance from the world around them; experiences feelings of depression, feelings of hopelessness, and a growing inability to feel emotions.
• Intrusion – the victim experiences recurrent recollections of the event.
• Avoidance – this symptom can include avoidance of people, places, or other circumstances associated with the trauma.
PATH TO IMPROVING YOUR WELL-BEING
There are things you can do to cope with your feelings after a car accident. First and most important follow up with your family doctor. Your doctor can give you referrals to other health care providers if necessary. He or she can monitor your recovery and prescribe any medication you may need. They can refer you to a mental health specialist or therapist to help you work through your feelings.
Try talking to your friends, relatives, or a counselor about the details of the car accident. Talking to friends, family or counselor about how you felt, thought and acted at the time of the accident and in the days after it will help you open up your feelings. Try to get back to daily activities and routines. Traffic accidents make some people limit what they do. It’s important to try to get back to your usual activities. Even if you’re uncomfortable or scared at first, it’s part of healing.
Stay active. Exercise often. Take part in activities that don’t bother any injuries you sustained during the accident. Your family doctor can help you figure out how much you can do safely. Learn to be a defensive driver. Driving or riding in cars might be hard after the accident. You can lower your risk of future accidents or injuries by practicing defensive driving. Always drive carefully, wear your seat belt, and avoid distractions while you’re driving. These include eating, talking on the phone, or texting. Avoid driving when you’re tired. Never drive if you have had alcohol or taken drugs or medicines that affect your judgment.