Car Accident PTSD: What You Should Know

Author: Anthony Johnson Date: January 17, 2019

When most people think of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), they typically think of wounded war veterans suffering from flashbacks from their time in combat. The reality of the situation, however, is that PTSD affects people from every walk of life. Whether they be teachers, police officers, or even politicians, anyone who has endured a traumatic experience runs the risk of suffering from the longterm effects of PTSD.

One of the most common traumatic experiences people face in the modern world are car accidents. Indeed, multiple studies have shown that approximately 25-33% of car accident victims exhibit symptoms of PTSD within 30 days of their auto accidents. Car accident PTSD victims often describe suffering a crippling fear of driving or riding in a car at all, recurring memories and nightmares of the accident, and even “increased physical arousal,” such as the fear of loud noises and sudden movements. Below are the most frequently reported car accident PTSD symptoms and the best treatment methods available to auto accident victims.

PTSD Hyperarousal

Hyperarousal is one of the major symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD victims who experience hyperarousal describe feelings of extreme paranoia, like they are on high alert for no particular reason. Such unexplained feelings can leave victims with excessive levels of stress, sleep problems, periods of panic, general irritability, and, also, feelings of shame, anger, and even fear. Car Accident PTSD victims often find they become hyperaroused whenever they ride in a car or if the travel at higher speeds.

Hyperarousal is triggered when PTSD victims remember the initial trauma that caused their condition. Their body then reacts to a phantom threat as if it were a real manifestation. The best treatment for symptoms of hyperarousal is through therapy sessions with a trained psychiatrist or psychologist. Medication may be needed to subdue especially debilitating symptoms.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Avoidance

Another common Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptom victims often experience is that of avoidance. In the context of PTSD, avoidance is when victims respond to external stimuli that triggers memories, sensations, thoughts, or feelings associated with their initial trauma. Examples of external stimuli are: locations, sights, smells, symbols, particular people, or anything connected to the traumatic event.

When it comes to car accident PTSD victims, it is common for them to avoid driving or even riding in cars as a passenger. Some car accident PTSD victims’ fears might even be narrowed to certain conditions, such as driving at high speeds highways or on bridges. Avoidance symptoms typically subside with time. In some cases, though, these symptoms may grow more severe for car accident PTSD victims. If you feel your avoidance symptoms are growing worse, you should obtain professional psychological help.

Anhedonia From PTSD

While Anhedonia, or emotional numbing, is a frequent symptom for many types of depressive disorders, and it is also sometimes a result of car accident PTSD. People who experience anhedonia after a car accident often find that previously pleasurable experiences, like playing sports or socializing with friends and family, have become unbearable or even impossible to endure. Car accident PTSD victims with anhedonia might exhibit the following symptoms: social withdrawal, emotional numbness toward personal relationships, self-loathing or disgust for others, reduced verbal and nonverbal expressions, loss of libido, or chronic physical ailments, such as feeling ill for no apparent reason.

Since anhedonia might contain a physical component, car accident PTSD victims should schedule a physical exam first with their primary care provider to rule out any actual physical problems, such as thyroid dysfunction or a deficiency of vitamins. If your doctor is unable to link the anhedonia to a physical ailment, you should consider visiting a mental health therapist for further treatment.

Intrusive PTSD Thoughts and Memories

One of the most frustrating conditions car accident PTSD victims face are intrusive thoughts and memories. Such intrusive thoughts are typically recurring memories of the traumatic event itself, disturbing dreams or nightmares of the traumatic event, or, in severe cases, actual flashbacks of the traumatic event as if it were happening all over again.

According to the Mayo Clinic, car accident PTSD victims might experience acute emotional distress or, in some instances, actual physical reactions to situations, people, or objects that trigger uncomfortable memories or thoughts about the traumatic event. Treatment for intrusive memories or thoughts for car accident PTSD victims is to work with a mental health professional to first identify exactly what is triggering such memories and thoughts. Only after they have been identified are victims able to process and eventually confront the root of their fears. While some victims may be tempted to avoid the situations that trigger these intrusive thoughts and memories, avoidance only increasing isolation in the long run and potentially leads to deepening depressive habits.

The Advocates

While Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an injury hidden deep inside the human skull, the detrimental effects are as real as broken bones or even spinal injuries for car accident PTSD victims. If you are suffering from any of the PTSD symptoms then you will need an Advocate to help you get the legal help you deserve. When you hire an Advocate to represent your personal injury case, you’re getting the best car accident lawyer possible. Our injury attorneys have decades of experience helping auto accident victims all throughout the state of Washington. We know best how to get you just compensation for your losses and PTSD injuries. Don’t wait to contact our office today. You can either call us at (206) 452-4200 or chat online right now with a live injury lawyer from our homepage. You deserve an Advocate!

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