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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Car Accidents

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder After a Car Accident

A person involved in a serious car accident can have harms and losses that go beyond what is immediately observable.  After the vehicle is replaced, the fractures heal, and physical therapy is complete, the psychological harms that people cannot physically see sometimes remain.  Car-accident related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is estimated to effect 2.5 to 7 million people in the United States.

Being involved in a serious car accident increases your risk for psychological issues, including the risk of experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  This blog discusses Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the context of car accidents.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Generally, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the development of certain characteristic symptoms following exposure to a traumatic event like a serious car accident.  The manner in which the symptoms present themselves can vary with each patient.  According to the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, some patients may experience:

  • Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the event;
  • Distressing dreams related to the event;
  • Flash backs with varying levels of intensity;
  • Psychological distress related to cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the event;
  • Physiological or physical reactions to cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the event;
  • Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the event;
  • Changes in cognition and mood related to the event;
  • Changes in arousal and reactivity associated with the event such as irritable behavior, sleep disturbances, and concentration problems; and
  • Distress that causes impairment in social and occupational functioning.

This list is not all-inclusive and other symptoms may likewise be present.  Given the effects upon an injured person’s quality of life, it is important that you seek timely help from a psychological or medical professional if you are having psychological issues after a serious car wreck.

Diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Only a qualified psychological or medical professional can diagnose PTSD.  Diagnosis cannot be made by a lawyer or by your family or friends.  Typically, a medical professional will screen patients for PTSD symptoms with widely-utilized PTSD written instruments or scales, and thereafter conduct a detailed, structured interview.  The medical professional will rule out other causes that may explain the symptoms suffered by the patient to ultimately arrive at the diagnosis.

Treatment for PTSD

The scientific literature indicates that the majority of patients do not seek treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder shortly after their car accident.  This is troubling given the effect that PTSD has on an injured person’s everyday life.  Like any other injury, treatments exist for psychological injuries like PTSD.  These treatments include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Supportive Psychotherapy.  Like physical injuries, with treatment, psychological harms and losses sustained after a serious car accident can be treated.

Car Wreck Attorneys Who Understands PTSD

In addition to PTSD, other psychological problems are often present after a car accident.  If you have been injured in a serious car accident, it is important that you not discount the unseen psychological harms and losses you suffered.  These psychological harms and losses may continue long after your purely physical injuries have healed.

Barney Law PLLC represents clients injured in serious car accidents.  Attorney Mark A. Barney has a strong background in working with clients who have sustained PTSD and cognitive issues because of serious car accidents.  Though our office is located in Teays Valley, Putnam County, West Virginia, we represent clients injured in car accidents throughout West Virginia.  Feel free to call us today for a free initial consultation.