Can you get PTSD from a Car Accident?

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As we discussed in an earlier blog, most people involved in a car accident suffer from some degree of emotional or psychological upset that may make them more hypervigilant while driving. In some cases, however, a car accident can trigger or aggravate a more serious psychological condition that may affect more than just their driving, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

You have undoubtedly heard of PTSD in the context of soldiers returning home from a war zone, but did you know that PTSD can occur as a result of any number of scary life events, including car accidents?

What is PTSD?

PTSD can be defined as follows:

  • a natural emotional response
  • to frightening or dangerous experiences
  • that involve actual or threatened serious harm to oneself or others.

A car accident can be both frightening and dangerous, and often involves harm to one or more of the people involved. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that many people who are injured in a car accident develop symptoms of PTSD.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

The symptoms of PTSD typically appear within 3 months of a car accident, and may include:

  • flashbacks to the accident;
  • recurring nightmares about the accident;
  • avoiding driving in the area of the accident, or even avoiding driving altogether;
  • avoiding family and friends;
  • loss of interest in daily activities;
  • difficulty controlling your emotions;
  • difficulty concentrating;
  • difficulty sleeping;
  • sudden onset dizziness, racing heartbeat or shortness of breath; or
  • fear of being hurt or killed.

How Common is PTSD after an Accident?

Whether or not a person will develop PTSD following an accident depends on the number of risk factors present in their life. While, one person involved in a catastrophic car accident may not develop any PTSD symptoms, another person involved in a comparatively minor collision could suffer from PTSD for months or even years.

The are several risk factors that may increase your likelihood of developing PTSD after a car accident, including:

  • the severity of the accident;
  • your history of past traumatic events;
  • your mental health prior to the accident;
  • the way you interpret and remember the accident;
  • the emotions you experienced during and after the accident;
  • lack of support from family and friends; and
  • financial stress.

If you have been in a car accident and are experiencing any of the symptoms or risk factors mentioned in this article, you should consider speaking to your doctor about being referred to a psychologist who has experience diagnosing and treating PTSD. Be sure to talk to your insurance adjuster about paying for the treatments.

How is PTSD Treated?

Often the first step is to tell your family physician about your symptoms and how they are affecting your life. Doctors are trained to identify the signs and symptoms of PTSD and can refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

PTSD therapy is typically tailored to the individual, but often incorporates counselling, either individually or in a group. In addition to counselling, there are several types of therapy that are used to treat PTSD, including:

  • Exposure Therapy;
  • Relaxation Therapy;
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing; and
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Medication may also be prescribed to treat some of the symptoms of PTSD.

How Can Moustarah & Company Help?

As with any injury suffered in a car accident, it is important to be assessed and treated by the appropriate medical professionals. Moustarah & Company can refer you to medical professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of PSTD after an accident. Our personal injury lawyers will help guide you through the claims process and determine how much your personal injury claim may be worth.

Please note: The information provided on this website does not constitute medical or legal advice and should not be construed as such. The lawyers and staff and Moustarah & Company are not trained medical professionals and do not hold themselves out to be such. If you are suffering from an injury, please contact your doctor or medical care provider.

The information provided on this website does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. Moustarah & Company does not guarantee that this information is accurate or up to date. As a result, should you require legal advice, please contact a personal injury lawyer.