Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a complex mental health diagnosis that can develop after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. While it is often associated with combat veterans, PTSD can affect anyone who has been through a distressing event, including serious car crashes.

If you have PTSD after a collision, you may need counseling or medication to manage your symptoms. An Utah car accident attorney from Great West Injury Law can help you seek compensation for these costs as part of an accident settlement.

Understanding PTSD

PTSD is characterized by a variety of symptoms, including intrusive memories, flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, avoidance behaviors, and mood disturbances. Living with these symptoms can affect your ability to function in daily life, including work, and can persist for months or years after the traumatic event.

PTSD is a common experience after serious car accidents. A 2018 meta-analysis found that an average of just over 22% of road traffic accident survivors (more than one in five crash victims) experienced PTSD, with a total prevalence of between 6% and 58%.

After a crash, PTSD symptoms can manifest in the following ways:

  • Avoiding places or activities that bring back memories of the crash
  • Unexpected memories or flashbacks interrupting daily life
  • Bad dreams affecting sleep and causing tiredness
  • Being easily startled or feeling on edge in everyday situations
  • Pulling away from friends and family as a way to cope
  • Feeling irritable or angry more often, impacting relationships
  • A general feeling of fear or anxiety, not just about driving
  • Struggling to feel happy or enjoy things like before

The psychological impact of the crash, especially if it involves loss or intense fear, deepens feelings of sadness and isolation. Survivors may struggle with emotional connections and withdraw from relationships and social activities.

The greater the severity of the crash, the more likely it is to leave a lasting psychological impact. The intensity of their response can affect daily functioning, limiting their ability to work, socialize, or perform routine tasks.

One study found PTSD was more common in those with severe injuries or who witnessed the death of a loved one in the crash.

Common Triggers

A range of sensory inputs and environmental factors can trigger PTSD symptoms in individuals who have survived serious car crashes. The following triggers often bring back intense memories of the trauma, leading to the worsening of symptoms.

  • Loud Noises: Car horns or breaking glass can recreate the terror of a crash. Survivors may experience panic attacks, feeling as though they’re back in the moment of impact.
  • Flashing Lights: Flashing lights can trigger post-traumatic stress in accident survivors by evoking memories of the crash. This can happen when they resemble the strobe of emergency vehicles or mimic the sudden glare of headlights in a collision.
  • Proximity to Vehicles: Riding in or being close to a car can bring back feelings of vulnerability from the crash. Survivors may develop avoidance behaviors such as not driving or riding in cars.
  • Physical Injuries: The presence of injuries or scars from the accident may be a continuous reminder of the trauma. It can lead to depression or self-isolation as survivors deal with the long-term impact of their injuries, such as limited mobility or disfigurement.

Coping Strategies

For individuals struggling with PTSD after a car crash, seeking professional help is critical. Mental health professionals, such as therapists and counselors, can provide evidence-based treatments to help you process the traumatic experience and learn coping strategies for managing symptoms.

This can include eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), which uses guided eye movements to help process and reduce the distress from traumatic memories. EMDR is highly effective in improving symptoms of PTSD.

In addition to therapy, there are several self-care strategies you can use to help alleviate PTSD symptoms. These may include practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and mindfulness meditation, regular exercise, a healthy lifestyle, and connecting with supportive friends and family members.

Get Full Compensation After a Car Accident

Fight PTSD with the support of Great West Injury Law. We can help you pursue financial compensation for the mental anguish, diminished life enjoyment, medical expenses, and lost earnings you’ve endured because of the accident.

Contact us today for a free case review and learn your legal options.