Driving Again After a Car Accident: Dealing With Post Accident Anxiety or PTSD

When it comes to car accidents and personal injury cases, it’s easy to assume that most of the damages involve physical injuries and/or car repairs. But after the dust has settled and lesions have healed, some individuals deal with emotional issues — such as flashbacks, nightmares, and fear of getting back on the road. If you’ve been having similar experiences, you may be wondering whether it’s all in your head, or whether you are actually going through post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). How can you recognize the signs? And, is there anything you can do about it from a legal standpoint?

PTSD After a Car Accident

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric condition that affects people who have either experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. While it’s generally associated with war veterans, it’s not an ailment that’s exclusive to the military. It could occur to anyone who has experienced a violent event — including catastrophic motor vehicle accidents. In fact, approximately 40% of people involved in motor vehicle accidents have experienced PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD After a Car Accident

People with PTSD have recurring intense thoughts and/or feelings related to their traumatic experience — and they can persist long after the event happened. Symptoms vary depending on the severity of the condition, and they fall into four categories:

1. Thoughts. This involves memories of the event interrupting your daily life, as well as nightmares of the car accident, or getting involved in additional crashes. Both the thoughts and memories are intense enough to cause you to become distraught.

2. Feelings. This includes experiencing guilt — especially if someone else involved in the crash experienced worse injuries than you or if they died. It can also include you feeling fear about getting back behind the wheel, or losing interest in things you once enjoyed.

3. Becoming reactive. This occurs when a person becomes irritable, is constantly angry or startled, or engages in self-destructive behavior — such as excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs, binge eating, cutting oneself, or having suicidal thoughts.

4. Avoidance. This occurs when you want to avoid anything that reminds you of the accident — such as driving, visiting anywhere close to the site of the accident, or evading anyone who was with you the day of the accident.

In addition to the psychological signs, a person with PTSD may also experience other symptoms. The most common include:

  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Becoming easily startled
  • Being constantly worried about impending danger
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Memory problems
  • Feeling detached from loved ones
  • Negative thoughts about the world in general

Symptoms may appear soon after the event or take years to surface. For a person to be diagnosed, they must be experiencing them for more than a month.

Can you get PTSD from a minor car accident?

PTSD is usually diagnosed on people who have experienced or witnessed violence, the threat of serious injury or death, sexual assault, the sudden death of a loved one, or any type of event that can expose them to trauma. Therefore, the opposing party on a minor car accident case will likely contest any claims of post-traumatic stress disorder. But, only a mental health professional can make that determination. This is one of the main reasons why speaking with an experienced car accident attorney is beneficial. They will ask you all the right questions to help determine the help — and monetary compensation — you need.

Call us at Clark Law for a consultation

There are many factors that affect the outcome of a case. If you or someone you love was involved in a car accident and is now suffering from PTSD, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. We’ll consider all circumstances to determine your best next step.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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