PTSD after a motor vehicle accident

PTSD after a motor vehicle accident

When discussing motor vehicle accidents and the resulting injuries, we tend to focus on some of the more common types of physical injuries like those to the head, neck and back. Less discussed, however, are the emotional and mental injuries that you can’t see that may result from a traumatic brain injury or from trauma.

In recent years, information about the medical condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder has come to light as a significant percentage of returning U.S. veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD. It’s important to note, however, that individuals who have been involved in a motor vehicle accident may also struggle to cope with the negative side-effects of PTSD.

Annually, an estimated six million people in the U.S. are involved in traffic accidents. For some of these individuals, the trauma experienced in the immediate wake of and weeks following an accident will lead to the development of PTSD. While many people who are involved or injured in car accidents experience some symptoms that are commonly associated with the medical condition, PTSD symptoms are much more pronounced and pervasive.

The following are some symptoms that are common among PTSD sufferers and that can greatly interfere with an individual’s relationships, ability to work and ability to enjoy life.

  • Intrusive flashbacks to and thoughts about the accident
  • Intense feelings of anxiety, anger and fear
  • Severe phobia of riding in a motor vehicle
  • Nightmares
  • Aversion to any medical tests or intervention
  • Feeling disconnected from family members, friends and normal life events
  • Overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame
  • Self-destructive behaviors

If left untreated, the symptoms of PTSD often intensify and worsen over time. It’s critical, therefore, that motor vehicle accident survivors who exhibit these types of worrisome behaviors seek professional help.

Source: Family Doctor, “Post-traumatic Stress Disorder | Post-traumatic Stress After a Traffic Accident,” June 26, 2015

Mayo Clinic, “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” June 26, 2015