What Accident Victims Need To Know About PTSD

PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition most associated with combat veterans, but can occur in anyone who has had a  traumatic experience. According to the American Psychological Association, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of PTSD among the general population. In dangerous situations, the human body produces "fight or flight  reactions, which subside when the danger has passed. With PTSD, these reactions continue after the traumatic event, often for very extended periods of  time that could be months or years. 

PTSD symptoms include increased stress levels, jumpiness and panic reactions. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) offers these specific criteria for diagnosis 

  • Frequent recurrent and involuntary memories of the accident that intrude on the person’s daily life 
  • Nightmares or upsetting dreams about the event
  • Dissociative reactions such as flashbacks 
  • Strong feelings of distress, including  responses such as increased heart rate, after experiencing reminders of the trauma
  • Intentional avoidance of thoughts and feelings about the accident
  • Avoidance of external reminders of the trauma, including certain people, places or situations
  • Inability to remember details of the accident or later events (not related to head or brain injury)
  • Exaggerated negative beliefs about oneself or the world
  • Incessantly blaming oneself or others for the accident and/or the consequences
  • Constant negative emotions such as fear, anger, guilt or shame
  • Noticeably diminished interest in previous hobbies
  • Continuing inability to feel positive emotions such as happiness, love or joy
  • Feeling detached or alienated from others
  • Aggressive or irritable behavior
  • Reckless or self-destructive behavior
  • Hypervigilance, feeling constantly guarded and fearful
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep problems such as insomnia, fitful sleep or nightmares
If you believe that you or a loved one in your care is suffering PTSD as a result of an accident, your first step should be to seek treatment with physicians and medical health professionals. Your next step should be contacting an experienced auto accident attorney. As with accidents resulting in property and bodily damages, psychological damages are a component of recovery in personal injury cases. As always, even though PTSD symptoms can be delayed in presenting themselves, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible and avoid talking to or entering into agreements with insurance companies before speaking with your attorney.

Accident recovery is complicated. For information or to set up a case consultation call us at (318) 352-1999
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