How a Car Collision Can Lead to PTSD
Even low-impact car collisions can be traumatizing to the victims. In fact, recent studies have shown that an alarmingly large number of crash victims develop a serious anxiety disorder following the crash. Yet, in general, few people seem to realize the damage that these kinds of accidents can cause to the victims’ brains.
What Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?
Posttraumatic stress disorder, more commonly known as PTSD, is condition that develops after someone has witnessed or been involved in a traumatic and stressful situation. This disorder is most often associated with soldiers who experienced trauma while at war. Before the label of PTSD, it was referred to as “shell shock,” and was reserved almost exclusively for soldiers, especially those of WWI, which is when that term was invented.
These days, however, it is better understood that anyone can suffer from PTSD. There are countless scenarios that could lead to PTSD developing. For example, the victim of a bank robbery could develop the stress disorder, and, as a result, no longer be able to enter banks without suffering from an anxiety attack. The only think necessary for the development of PTSD is psychological trauma.
In that case, car crashes can definitely allow this disorder to develop.
Car Crashes and PTSD
Most people experience, whether as a witness or a victim, at least one car accident in their life. Since collisions are so common, many people assume that those involved would be able to move on with their lives quickly. That is an unfair, and incorrect, way of looking at these collisions.
A car crash, even a minor one, can be incredibly traumatic for the victims. These incidents are often fast, loud, and dangerous. Victims can be killed, or, at the very least, injured. Even if the incident doesn’t lead to any catastrophic injuries, just the fact alone that the victim could have been seriously injured or killed is enough to cause him or her to develop PTSD.
In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), nearly 40% of all vehicle collision survivors develop PTSD. That is an alarmingly high number. If ten people are each involved in a serious car crash, then four of them will develop posttraumatic stress disorder, whether they are seriously injured or not. Yet insurance companies like to focus on the physical damage that a car collision can cause, and rarely bother with the mental damage.
Watching for the Signs of PTSD
PTSD is not an easy disorder to live with, and, as with most psychiatric disorders, there is no known way to “cure” it. Such a disorder can have an extreme impact on someone’s life. If you suffer from PTSD due to a car accident, you may hardly be able to bring yourself to drive anymore. In fact, you may not feel safe or comfortable in a vehicle at all. Considering that vehicles are necessary to get from home, to work, to the grocery store, to any location, this kind of anxiety can leave you unable to live independently, and may force you to rely on others.
While there is no clear-cut cure, there is treatment available. The best course of action is to seek psychiatric help from a licensed professional. It is best if this is done early, so if you or a loved one has been involved in a serious car accident, be sure to watch for the symptoms of PTSD, which include:
- Intense nightmares
- Flashbacks to the traumatic event
- Visual and auditory memories (such as the sound of the cars colliding)
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Avoidance of people, places, or activities as a result of the trauma
- Sudden physical reactions (such as an elevated heartbeat)
- Mood swings
If you notice these symptoms in yourself or in someone that you love, then you should seek a diagnosis and psychiatric help. Keep in mind that everyone deals with trauma differently. Your symptoms may not line up exactly with what we have listed above. That does not mean that you may not have developed PTSD, and you should seek a professional opinion regardless.
Of course, psychiatric help is expensive. You may not be able to afford the diagnosis and treatment that you need. Thankfully, if the collision was caused by someone else’s negligence, then you do have legal options. When you file a claim against the negligent party, therapy bills are just one of the many damages that you can recover. Of course, filing a claim will require the help of an experienced attorney.
We at The Lenahan Law Firm specialize in helping people in Dallas who suffered severe injuries. This allows us to take a few clients a year, which means we can give our clients the time and attention that they truly deserve. If we sound like the right law firm for you, call us at (214) 295-1008 today. As experienced Dallas personal injury attorneys, we can help you get the compensation that you need.