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Mental Health After A Car Accident

Getting in a car accident can be traumatizing and can have long-term impacts on one’s mental health. One of the most common results of these incidents is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While this disorder is often associated with exposure to violence and was first identified in soldiers after World War II, survivors of severe motor vehicle accidents have felt similar symptoms. The effects of PTSD are often long-lasting and can be present for many years.

Symptoms of PTSD

Those involved in fatal accidents, head-on collisions, rollover accidents, and pedestrian accidents (Hit and Runs) often experience symptoms of PTSD. T-bone accidents are also a common trauma causing accident. It is important to identify if you have symptoms of trauma. Here are some common identifiers:

  • Flashbacks and Nightmares: Most people have flashbacks and nightmares of the event, and cannot escape the event. Flashbacks are similar to nightmares but occur during the daytime, or while someone is conscious. It is usually triggered by a certain action or sense. Those who survived a traffic incident may be triggered by loud metal bangs, smell of burnt rubber, broken glass, etc. Some with severe trauma may be unable to drive or enter a car because of these flashbacks.
  • Avoidance: Those who have trauma will try and avoid discussing the subject or entering situations that may trigger the intrusive thoughts. This may cause someone to withdraw from large gatherings or certain objects at home. Those with avoidance may try and withdraw themselves or sleep in order to avoid dealing with their thoughts.
  • Agitation: These triggers will most likely cause an aggressive or agitated reaction. Severe forms of this may result in violent or self-destructive behaviors. Other reactions can include sleeping very little or sleeping too much.
  • Pessimism: Another symptom is an overall feeling of shame or guilt, or feeling anger about oneself and others. This may also cause trust issues as well as suicidal tendencies triggered by guilt over one’s own actions.

Self-diagnosing trauma can be difficult, but it is possible for an onlooker to identify a shift in personality of someone they love. These are some observable symptoms of PTSD:

  • Sudden violent behaviors or movements during sleep. Many times, they may choke or hit a significant others while asleep and will have no memory of the event once awake.
  • Small issues may irritate a person more than usual. Imperfect situations may aggravate the person and cause them to become angry.
  • You may notice they withdraw from conversations and try to avoid the topic of the accident. They may shows signs of distress if discussing the incident.
  • They may make statements like “I am not good enough” or “It is all my fault”.
  • They may be anxious when you drive or when in a car.
  • Any irregular behavior traits that were not present before the incident.

If you notice these symptoms, it is important to get the person medical attention or a proper method of venting their feelings.

Getting Medical and Professional Help

Some people may see the symptoms of the PTSD slowly disappear a few months after the incident, however if you notice your symptoms worsening or lasting for more than a year, it is important to seek medical help. If you are diagnosed with PTSD, your doctor may refer you to further treatment to alleviate your symptoms.

In addition, if a car accident was the cause of the trauma, it is important to speak to a car accident lawyer about the medical help you are receiving. You may be able to get compensation for your expenses, especially if it is long-term. Remember, PTSD is not uncommon after accidents, and you are not alone.

As you deal with this anxiety disorder it is important that you keep a daily routine and understand how to cope with your triggers. Additionally, remember that using family and friends for help is ok and a normal part of the process. Also try taking your mind off the event by reading, meditating, or taking part in other activities.

Taking back control of one’s life is the first step in combatting PTSD, and understanding you are not at fault can help you make progress in your recovery. If you cannot do this by yourself, remember that seeking professional help us ok and not something to be ashamed of.

[1] https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/masstrauma/factsheets/public/coping.pdf

[3] https://www.verywellmind.com/risk-factors-for-ptsd-following-a-traffic-accident-2797197

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