Guide to Car Accident PTSD

The Ultimate Guide to Car Accident PTSD Symptoms

One of the most common misconceptions about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is that it only affects people like wounded war veterans who have suffered extreme trauma. The reality, though, is that PTSD can affect anyone at any time. No matter your background, if you’ve suffered even a minor trauma you run the risk of suffering from the ill effects of PTSD.

Car accidents are the leading cause of PTSD among the non-military population. Studies have shown that up to 33% of car accident victims experience symptoms of PTSD within a month of their accident. Car crashes often leave survivors with anxiety disorder, negative thoughts, periods of dissociation, and emotional distress.

The following is a list of the most common symptoms of PTSD among car accident survivors, as well as methods of treatment.

PTSD Avoidance

Many motor vehicle accident victims describe feeling feelings of avoidance after their traumatic crashes. PTSD avoidance occurs whenever victims respond negatively to external stimuli such as triggered memories, feelings, thoughts, or sensations that are related to the cause of their trauma. Some examples of stimuli are sights, scents, locations, familiar symbols, people who were involved in the incident, or anything that bears some sort of connection to the traumatic event itself.

A common sign of avoidance by car accident PTSD victims is refusing to drive or be a passenger in a car. It is also common for victims of car accident PTSD to have more narrow fears, like driving over a bridge or traveling at a high rate of speed.

Symptoms of PTSD avoidance are often short-term and will lessen as time goes on. In some instances, however, PTSD avoidance symptoms can grow worse for victims. If you feel your symptoms of avoidance are getting more difficult to deal with as they days go on, you should consider making an appointment with a mental health professional.

PTSD Hyperarousal Following a Car Accident

Hyperarousal is a symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that many car accident victims struggle with in the days and weeks following their car crash. Car accident PTSD victims experiencing hyperarousal often have symptoms of extreme paranoia, describing the experience as being on high alert for no apparent reason at all. Victims often feel exceptionally high levels of stress, difficulty sleeping, sporadic episodes of panic, excessive startle, and unexplained irritability. They may also experience negative emotions such as shame, fear, and anger.

Hyperarousal symptoms can be triggered whenever car accident PTSD victims are reminded of the trauma that initially caused the PTSD symptoms. Victims’ bodies will react as if they are once again experiencing the trauma. The most effective treatment for hyperarousal symptoms is regularly seeing a trained mental health therapist. Some victims may even need medication to help overcome symptoms that prove to be too incapacitating.

Anhedonia Caused by Car Accident PTSD

Anhedonia, also known as “emotional numbing,” is one of the most common symptoms of several types of depressive disorders. Anhedonia is also a symptom of car accident PTSD. Car accident victims who suffer from anhedonia after their car crash often find it difficult to take pleasure in activities, events, and experiences that they enjoyed prior to their trauma, such as sports or visiting family and friends,. Victims of car accident PTSD commonly experience symptoms such as emotional numbing, withdrawal from social situations, self-loathing, disgust toward other people, a depletion of the libido, and chronic aches and pains.

Anhedonia symptoms are often caused by physical ailments, so if you suspect you are suffering from PTSD anhedonia you should visit your primary care physician to ensure you aren’t suffering another condition like a vitamin deficiency or thyroid dysfunction. If your symptoms aren’t a manifestation of a physical ailment, you should schedule an appointment with a mental health professional to set up a proper treatment plan.

Intrusive Thoughts and Memories from PTSD

Intrusive thoughts or memories are another stressful symptom of PTSD. When victims experience intrusive thoughts or memories, they are usually of the traumatic event itself. Many victims describe recurring dreams or nightmares and, in severe cases, complete flashbacks of the auto accident itself, causing victims to believe the event is happening all over again.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it is common for car accident PTSD victims to experience severe emotional distress or profound physical reactions to objects, people, or situations that happen to trigger negative memories of the car accident. The best treatment for such intrusive thoughts is to speak to a trained mental health therapist to help identify what precisely is triggering them in the first place. It’s only after the root causes of these intrusive memories that car accident PTSD victims can finally confront what is truly causing these fears. Some victims might be tempted to simply avoid whatever is causing such triggers, but this is a mistake. Avoidance often leads to further depressive patterns and habits.

Common Treatments of PTSD

Many PTSD victims seek help from doctors or therapists to manage their symptoms and help them move forward after their traffic accident. A medical professional can help you determine the best course of action, depending on the nature of your accident, your PTSD symptoms, and other factors.

According to the American Psychological Association, some common methods used for the treatment of PTSD include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: CBT is often used to help victims alter unhelpful thinking about their accident to develop healthier behaviors
  • Exposure therapy: Prolonged exposure can help individuals confront fears gradually rather than avoiding them
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is sometimes used to help PTSD victims change the way the memory of their accident is stored in the brain
  • Cognitive processing therapy: CPT can help PTSD victims create new understanding and thought patterns regarding their traumatic event
  • Medication: In some cases, your doctor may recommend antidepressants or other medication to help manage your symptoms

If you believe you are suffering from PTSD symptoms after a car accident, it is a good idea to contact a health professional for diagnosis and treatment.

Call the Advocates About Your PTSD Injury Claim

PTSD is an injury hidden deep inside the human brain, but this doesn’t mean the detrimental effects aren’t as painful or real as physical injuries. If you or a loved one has received a PTSD diagnosis after your car accident, you will need a personal injury lawyer with The Advocates to help you get the legal compensation you deserve.

Our car accident attorneys have decades of experience helping injury victims all throughout Utah. We are prepared to help you obtain compensation for your damages, from medical bills for serious injuries to non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Don’t wait to get started on the road to recovery. Contact us today for a free consultation. You deserve peace after your accident. You deserve an Advocate.

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