What’s It Like to Suffer from Accident-Related PTSD?
While an auto accident could result in physical injuries, that’s not where the trauma stops. A crash can have a significant emotional or mental impact on a victim. If you or a loved one has been in a wreck and are dealing with emotional pain, you’re not alone. According to the National Center for PTSD, nearly seven to eight percent of the United States’ population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. There are healthy ways to cope with emotional trauma and restore order and balance to your life.
Emotional Trauma Associated with Car Accidents
If you’ve been in an auto accident, it’s likely a medical professional will assess your physical injuries; but what about the injuries that aren’t visible? After a crash, most people are likely to experience an array of emotions. Fear, anger, and sadness are some of the most common. In some instances, those emotions fade and accident victims are able to cope with the trauma in healthy ways and return to their lives as before.
Unfortunately, sometimes those feelings don’t go away. They may become stronger or morph into more severe or even dangerous ones that can change the way a person thinks or acts. As a result, the effect on everyday life can be severe. If you’re experiencing these kinds of emotions, you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Risk Factors Associated with PTSD
While you may think the severity of an accident or the injuries sustained contributes to the likelihood of developing PTSD, it actually has more to do with how the wreck was perceived in regard to mortality. Individuals who feel as though their lives were at risk during or after the accident are more likely to develop the condition.
There are a number of other risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing PTSD. They include:
- Having experienced another traumatic event
- Dealing with psychological difficulties prior to the accident
- A family history of psychological problems
- Losing someone in the accident
- The amount of support received after the wreck
- The initial emotional response
- The presence of dissociation during the crash
Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disordering
There four symptoms associated with PTSD. While they can manifest shortly after the traumatic event, they could also take months or years to develop.
- Reliving the crash. Memories of the accident could come back at any time. The same fear and horror could be experienced in a nightmare or flashback. Some people are triggered by certain sights, sounds, or smells that take them back to the wreck.
- Avoiding situations that remind you of the wreck. Individuals may try to avoid situations or people that remind them of the incident. They may also avoid talking or thinking about the event. Car accident victims may have a difficult time getting back behind the wheel or they may refuse to drive at all.
- Negative changes in beliefs and feelings. PTSD can change the way you think about yourself and others because of the trauma. You may think driving is always dangerous or forget parts about the accident altogether.
- Hyperarousal. A person with PTSD may be jittery, always on alert, or on the lookout for danger. As a result, it’s likely they’ll have difficulty sleeping and concentrating. They may also be easily startled by loud noises or surprises.
Recovering from PTSD
If emotional trauma lasts for more than a few months, is very upsetting, or disrupts your everyday life, there are different treatment options. The two main types of treatment are psychotherapy and medication. These treatments can also be combined.
- Also referred to as counseling or talk therapy, this form of treatment focuses on the memory of the traumatic event or its meaning. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) helps people learn skills to understand how the trauma changed their thoughts and feelings. Prolonged Exposure (PE) lets people talk about the trauma repeatedly until the memories are no longer upsetting.
- Medications can be effective for managing PTSD, too. Certain SSRIs and SNRIs, which are generally used for depression, also work for PTSD by making the symptoms easier to manage on a daily basis.
If you find yourself to be dealing with the physical, mental, and financial consequences of an accident, our lawyers are here for you. In Mississippi, you may be eligible for economic and noneconomic damages to aid in your recovery. We can help you determine what fair compensation looks like and work to get you what you need. To learn more about how to take legal action after an automobile crash, contact our firm today.