According to surveys, over 70% of United States adults have experienced some sort of traumatic event during their lives. In fact, traumatic events, such as car accidents, are the primary cause of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among victims. And, unsurprisingly, car accident PTSD is one of the most common forms of trauma victims face.
Car accidents are not only some of the most stressful and traumatic experiences people face in the modern world, they are also some of the most common. One minute you’re driving along listening to music and then next you’re sitting on the side of the road next to your wrecked vehicle trembling with your head in your hands. Considering how many people die or are seriously injured each and every year, it’s no wonder that so many people suffer from car accident PTSD. The following is a guide to the causes, risks, symptoms, and possible treatments of car accident PTSD for potential victims.
Car Accident PTSD Causes
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined as a psychiatric disorder affecting people who have endured traumatic events such as an auto crash, a combat situation, or violent physical or sexual assault. PTSD, colloquially referred to as ‘shell shock,’ is often found in military veterans, assault survivors, or victims of child abuse. Virtually anyone who has suffered some sort of trauma runs the risk of experiencing the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.
Rarely, if ever, do two car accident PTSD victims develop the same PTSD symptoms in the same time frame. Some victims may experience symptoms within days of the traumatic incident, while others might not exhibit symptoms for weeks, months, or even years afterward. If PTSD victims choose not to seek treatment, multiple studies have shown that such symptoms can potentially worsen with time. These studies have also shown that car accident PTSD victims who regularly work with a therapist to manage their disorder find it easier to control their symptoms, if not overcome them altogether.
PTSD Risks After a Car Accident
Each and every year, an estimated 3 million people across the United States are injured in vehicle accidents. To make matters worse, 1 person dies every 16 minutes from a fatal auto accident. Automobile accidents are everyday tragedies for too many people and their families in the United States. With so many people being involved in car accidents, chances they suffer from the symptoms of PTSD are high. Indeed, psychological studies have shown that approximately 25-33% of car accident victims eventually exhibit signs of PTSD within a month of their auto accidents. While not every auto crash victim suffers PTSD, those who should know the risk factors that could later develop after a serious automobile accident:
- Experiencing a traumatic event like a car accident
- Losing a loved one in a traumatic incident
- A familial history of mental illness or disability
- Experiencing a life-threatening event
- A lack of support following trauma
- Suppressing thoughts regarding the traumatic event
Additional essential factors one should consider after being in a car accident are:
- Was dissociation experienced during the crash?
- Were there feelings of helplessness, shame, or guilt due to the crash?
- Did you experience a lack of awareness or memory loss regarding the crash?
If you answered in the affirmative to any of the above questions, then you should consider visiting a mental health care professional to help develop and maintain a psychiatric health plan so that you may treat and eventually recover from your PTSD.
Commonly Reported Symptoms of Car Accident PTSD
If you’ve been involved in a serious car accident, you run the risk of suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder sometime in the future. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should consult a mental healthcare professional as soon as you are able.
- Nervousness while driving
- Feeling overwhelmed or cautious while in a vehicle
- Tightness in the chest, heavy breathing, or rapid thoughts while driving
- Increased anxiety or a fast heartbeat when you remember your car accident
- The sound of screeching tires or loud horn honks put your body into shock
- Paranoia while driving next to other automobiles
- An unfounded fear of other drivers speeding or colliding with your vehicle
- Avoiding cars completely
- Avoiding certain types of roads, highways, or bridges
Car accident PTSD victims should know that despite the difficulties of the symptoms they face, their condition is treatable. There are several treatment options available to them, so they should be able to find the best option that works for them. Remember that PTSD symptoms tend to get worse with time, so be sure you get treatment in a timely manner for the sake of your mental health.
Car Accident PTSD Treatment Methods
While regular life may seem impossible for car accident PTSD victims, there are a number of treatment methods available to help them get their lives back on track. Below are the most tried and true PTSD treatment options:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:
Visiting a trained mental health therapist is the best way to target PTSD symptoms caused by a traumatic car accident. With the help of a therapist, victims can focus on paranoid thoughts, feelings, and behavior, as well as fixing detrimental behavior patterns and relationships. Negative thought and behavior patterns often make normal life routines difficult if not impossible to pursue.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy:
This type of therapy is a specific type of behavioral therapy aimed at allowing car accident PTSD victims a secure space to approach and address the negative thoughts, feelings, and situations they have associated with their traumatic experience.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR):
Eye movement desensitization is actually a combination treatment of exposure therapy along with a series of eye movements. EMDR can help car accident PTSD victims focus on the actual traumatic memory as they simultaneously move their eyes in the hope of reducing the emotion and vividness they have innately associated with their traumatic memories.
A regular prescription of behavior-modifying medication is another treatment option car accident PTSD victim should consider. Under the consultation of your mental health doctor, victims can adjust the dosage and type of medication they take to find the right fit according to their lifestyles.
While some of these treatments are more effective than others, ultimately it depends on what works for each person. Don’t be afraid to switch to an alternate therapy if what you are trying isn’t producing results.
Contact an Auto Accident Lawyer with the Montana Advocates
If you’re experiencing symptoms of PTSD as a result of a traumatic car accident, you will need an experienced car accident lawyer to help you get the compensation you deserve. With a personal injury attorney from the Montana Advocates handling your personal injury case we’ll fight to ensure your pain and suffering are covered in any eventual settlement you receive. Our professional staff will help you build the strongest personal injury case possible.
Know that when you hire the Montana Advocates to represent injury claim, you’re getting the best personal injury lawyer in all of Montana. Whether you live in Missoula, Billings, Helena, or Bozeman, the Montana Advocates are ready to make your recovery our first priority. So, don’t wait. Contact our office today. You can either call us at (406) 272-6989 or chat online with a live injury lawyer from our homepage. You deserve an Advocate!
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