When an auto accident occurs, the situation is often very stressful and traumatic for everyone involved. This doesn’t mean that the stress and trauma of the situation will result in the long term condition of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but in many cases, it does. In fact, research shows that although more severe accidents are more likely to result in this condition, even very minor incidents can lead to just as severe PTSD for the victim. It isn’t all about how terrible the accident is, though that is a factor; it is equally related to how at risk the victim is for developing such a condition.
The Association Between Auto Accidents and Psychological Conditions
PTSD is also not the only psychological disorder that may result from auto accidents. Generalized anxiety is one, and depression is another. People who have been in auto accidents are more at risk for a wide range of psychological, anxiety, and stress related conditions and disorders than those who have never had the experience. In many cases, auto accident victims will even develop phobias, either of driving, being in a vehicle, or being in or around certain kinds of vehicle that they associate with the trauma.
Something interesting to note here is that the majority of people alive today will be in at least one auto accident in their lifetime. Further, auto accidents have grown to be the leading cause of PTSD, where the Vietnam War used to hold that top position (Source: American Association of Family Physicians). Everyone who has been in an auto accident is at risk of developing PTSD, though some are more at risk than others. Symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder usually begin within days or weeks of the incident, though sometimes, they present months afterwards.
Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Auto Accident Victims
So, what exactly is post traumatic stress disorder, and how do you know if you have it? Anyone could experience a bit of anxiety after an auto accident, but those with PTSD are diagnosed based on certain symptoms that actively interfere with their ability to live their lives as they once did. One of these symptoms is the inability to control their thoughts, known as intrusive thoughts, about the auto accident and the associated experiences, like hospital stays or the loss of a loved one.
Frequent nightmares are another common symptom. Many times, the person with PTSD will mentally and emotionally relive the auto accident whenever they are triggered by certain events or stimuli. This could involve simply being in a vehicle or being in a similar area or circumstance. Some people will even have general anxiety in various situations, even those that don’t seem related to the incident.
Other symptoms include being easily upset and sensitive to loud noises. Some people become very irritable or even angry, often without an apparent or justifiable cause. It is also common for PTSD victims to be obsessively cautious about preventing auto accidents or simply convinced that it will happen again. Not everyone experiences all of the same symptoms, and for some they are more severe than others. Ultimately, PTSD will interfere with the victim’s life, whether it is more or less severe.
Is There a Cure for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
There is no quick fix to cure post traumatic stress disorder, but there are very effective treatments for those who suffer from this condition, and it is absolutely possible to overcome it. Many people will need medication for the anxiety associated with this condition, though they may not need it forever. In many cases, anxiety medications are used until such time as other treatments are successful. For some people, anxiety medication combined with other forms of treatment may be needed for a very long time.
One example of a commonly used treatment for PTSD is cognitive behavioral therapy. This is a popular treatment for many psychological disorders and it is very effective. The goal is to confront the feelings associated with the incident and with triggers of the anxiety from a compassionate perspective. Discussing these feelings is one part of it, but this has to be combined with actions, such as exposure therapy, cognitive restructuring, stress training, and/or virtual reality treatment.
To elaborate a bit on these processes, exposure therapy is a method of exposing the victim to their fears, either through visualization or physically returning to the scene. Cognitive restructuring is a way to recall what happened and come to terms with these memories and fears. Stress training involves an assortment of coping mechanisms for dealing with anxiety, like taking deep breaths to calm oneself when feelings of anxiety occur. The virtual reality treatments work with simulations of the situations that the victim fears, such as being in a vehicle, so the person can feel safe while facing that fear.
Can You Recover Compensation For Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
When seeking compensation for your injuries and other losses after a South Carolina auto accident, post traumatic stress disorder can be taken into account as part of your damages. You can receive compensation for your pain and suffering, psychological trauma, and the expenses associated with treatment. This includes compensation for your medications and therapy, as well as the general suffering that you have endured as a result of the incident. Contact the determined South Carolina auto accident attorneys at the David R. Price, Jr., P.A. for a free consultation of your case and find out how we can help you through this difficult process.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.