Even if you have never personally experienced a car accident, it’s not difficult to imagine how such an event could be traumatizing. During a collision, victims are susceptible to two different types of trauma—physical and psychological. Although a collision victim may experience these stresses independently of one another, psychological distress is special because it can present itself well after the collision:
Physical trauma can often lead to the development of psychological unrest. For example, it isn’t uncommon for severe pain to induce feelings of anxiety and depression as your body fights to recover. Depression and self-loathing also tragically develop in many collision victims who suffer facial scarring or disfigurement. Unfortunately, even if your injuries heal completely, you’re still vulnerable to experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the psychological damage you endured throughout the collision.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is commonly associated with military veterans and victims of large-scale disasters. However, three million people are involved in car accidents each year, and it is estimated that 10 to 45 percent of them develop symptoms of PTSD. In fact, car accidents are now labeled as the leading cause of PTSD in the United States.
Collision-related PTSD occurs in response to certain triggers. These triggers can manifest from anything that reminds the victim of the accident. Once the trigger is pulled, reawakened memories cause the victim to fear for his safety. He may develop one or more of these changes:
- Social anxiety. Social anxiety can include trouble concentrating, the inability to relate to people, an overwhelming feeling of detachment, or the unwillingness to travel anywhere.
- Insomnia. Those experiencing PTSD may have trouble sleeping or fall victim to “night terrors” brought on by memories or fear of the accident and what could have happened.
- Change in mood. PTSD sufferers often become irritable and introverted. They may also develop a fear of driving and have persistent flashbacks of the car accident.
- Physical abnormalities. As with any anxiety disorder, PTSD can cause a victim to eat less and therefore lose weight and energy. Episodes can also increase adrenaline—mimicking the sensation and adrenaline-rush experienced during the accident—resulting in cold sweats, elevated heart rate, and hyperventilation (fast and unsteady breathing).
Collision-related PTSD can continue to impact victims’ lives for years, and could potentially keep them from working, enjoying activities, or even leaving their houses.
Help Is Available to Recover From PTSD Caused by a Traffic Accident
Treatment and help are available for PTSD sufferers. However, therapy sessions, medication, and a great deal of support—physical, emotional, and financial—are often required to encourage recovery. In addition to your friends and family, car accident attorney Steve Lee is here to offer you the support you need.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident and have developed any degree of PTSD, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our office at 800-232-3711 or 713-921-4171 for advice regarding your injury claim.