Can a Car Accident Cause PTSD?

Attorney Mark Rufo PC

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often associated with victims of violence, combat veterans, and other people exposed to life-threatening situations. However, this mental health condition can also impact car accident victims, with sometimes lasting effects. Along with receiving medical assistance to deal with any physical injuries sustained, those involved in car crashes are encouraged to seek mental health assistance if any of the following effects occur.

Symptoms of PTSD

The effects of PTSD can impact all areas of a person’s life, from work and school to interpersonal relationships with friends and family. In general, there are four categories of symptoms that can take place after a traumatic experience:

  • Avoidance – A person may do whatever they can to avoid thinking or talking about what happened. This usually entails actively avoiding any reminders of the event, including certain people and places. When PTSD stems from an auto accident, cars and driving are often avoided.
  • Altered physical & emotional reactions – A person may feel constantly on guard, which manifests as irritability, a feeling of guilt, becoming startled easily, insomnia, and problems concentrating. A person may also indulge in self-destructive behaviors, such as drinking to excess or taking drugs.
  • Negative thinking & mood – A person with PTSD often experiences symptoms similar to depression. This includes negative thoughts, a feeling of hopelessness, a lack of interest in hobbies, feeling numb, and a sense of detachment.
  • Intrusive memories & thoughts – As much as reminders of the event will try to be avoided, PTSD can cause unwanted memories to recur, which can trigger negative thinking and emotions. The resulting emotional anguish can sometimes be severe and debilitating.

How to Get the Right Treatment

The first step is to speak with a medical professional about the symptoms you are experiencing. Remember, PTSD can manifest a short time after an event, or it can take years for symptoms to show. Once you have spoken with a doctor, he or she may recommend a few different treatment options. Medications, such as anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs, can help manage symptoms. However, psychotherapy is necessary to help you overcome intrusive thoughts or the desire to avoid certain things. A strong support network is also crucial, which is why many people look for local support groups to share their thoughts and feelings with others who have been through similar occurrences.