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Beyond the Physical Injuries: Can You Get PTSD from an Accident?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating mental health disorder that stems from experiencing or witnessing a deeply traumatic or distressing event or series of events. It can severely impact those affected, manifesting in persistent difficulties with mood, emotions, relationships, sleep, and daily functioning. PTSD can also heighten the risk of other psychological problems.

While many associate PTSD with military veterans who have experienced combat, it is essential to understand that this condition can affect anyone. This includes individuals who have sustained personal injuries in accidents, including car crashes, which can indeed trigger PTSD.

So, what precisely causes PTSD, and how can individuals struggling with this condition find ways to cope and ultimately enhance their quality of life?

Causes and Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in a motor vehicle accident

First, we’ll talk about the symptoms of PTSD so you can understand the effect it has on a person who suffers from it.

The first and most common symptom is recollection. PTSD sufferers often relive the emotional trauma of the event that they had to go through, both when they’re asleep (in the form of nightmares) or awake (in the form of flashbacks). These episodes are always unwanted and they can’t always be prevented.

As a result of these episodes – or even outside of the episodes – a sufferer may feel like they’re anxious. They may get chills, heart palpitations, headaches, sweaty palms, dry mouth, and other symptoms of a panic attack.

Another major symptom is avoidance. Those who suffer from PTSD want to do whatever they can to avoid remembering the traumatic event – which includes talking about it to counselors, family, and friends. For them, reliving the event is too painful and disturbing. Because of this, they frequently isolate themselves.

Mood swings can also happen with those who have PTSD. You can go from happy to sad very quickly, or you can experience anger, distrust, guilt, depression, or other symptoms without any real cause. Or, you can react strongly and unexpectedly to stimuli that otherwise wouldn’t affect you.

What causes PTSD?

The main trigger is a “very stressful, frightening, or distressing event,” according to the National Healthcare Service in the UK. It can also happen as a result of prolonged traumatic experiences.

There are a lot of events that fit this category. Accidents that result in a personal injury definitely qualify. So if you have ever wondered if you can get PTSD from a car accident, or a slip-and-fall, or being injured on a construction site, the answer is an emphatic yes.

Remember: personal injury accidents are scary in and of themselves, but they’re even more distressing and frightening if you’ve been injured. And what’s worse is that you can be reminded of your injury and what caused it every single day because you’ll be in treatment, or you may be wearing a cast or using crutches once you’re out of the hospital.

Plus, if you’ve been in a car accident, your PTSD may trigger whenever you do something as simple as get into a car. Many PTSD sufferers who have been injured in car accidents can’t drive for a long period of time, until they’ve managed to get help with their condition.

Coping with PTSD

It’s really hard to get help with PTSD. You often feel hopeless, like no one could possibly understand you, that it won’t help. But the most important step to recovery is getting professional help.

Getting over PTSD “naturally” just doesn’t happen. It won’t just go away. And while it’s natural to think that talking about the event and the trauma will make it worse, talking will actually help if it’s done in a safe and caring environment.

First, see your physician. He or she can eliminate any physical causes of your mental conditions. Sometimes, our moods can change in response to a physical ailment. Your doctor can rule out any other cause, and then give you a referral to a mental health professional.

There are many counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists trained specifically to help people with PTSD. They are there to care for you and give you support. They’ll use proven methods to help you cope with the disorder so you can get back to a healthy routine.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to get professional help. Getting help is even more important if your depression is severe enough to result in suicidal thoughts. If this starts happening to you, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It’s available 24 hours a day.

Don’t feel ashamed about getting professional help. Many people seek professional care for mental health disorders. It’s a lot more common than you think. And no one should fault you for being traumatized by an accident, especially one in which you were injured.

Understanding Avoidance Behavior in PTSD

One of the hallmark symptoms of PTSD is avoidance. This means that individuals might go out of their way to avoid reminders of the trauma. For instance, someone who has been in a car accident might avoid driving or even being a passenger in a car. This avoidance can extend to conversations about the accident or even thoughts about the event, making it a deeply impactful symptom that disrupts daily life.

The Complex Nature of Mood Swings Post-Accident

Mood swings are another challenging aspect of PTSD. Individuals might find themselves feeling fine one moment and overwhelmed with emotions the next. These mood swings aren't just your everyday ups and downs; they're intense and often feel uncontrollable, leaving the individual and those around them feeling confused and helpless.

Expert Insights on PTSD After Accidents

Mental health professionals note that PTSD from accidents can often be overlooked. It's essential to recognize the signs early and seek help. According to studies, timely intervention can significantly improve recovery outcomes.

Holistic Approaches to Managing PTSD Symptoms

In addition to professional therapy, holistic approaches like mindfulness, yoga, and meditation have shown promise in managing PTSD symptoms. These practices can help ground individuals, bringing them back to the present moment and away from distressing memories.

The Role of Support Groups in Healing

Support groups offer a unique space for sharing experiences and strategies for coping with PTSD. These groups provide a sense of community and understanding that can be incredibly comforting.

Finding the right lawyer to Help with a PTSD claim

If you have PTSD, that can factor into how much compensation you can get from your serious injury.

Your personal injury attorney will attempt to put a value on your pain and suffering. This is because having PTSD is severely disruptive to your everyday life. Many people with PTSD have to stop working until they recover. That results in real monetary costs in the form of lost wages.

But, beyond lost wages, you deserve to be made whole emotionally and physically as well as financially. The court recognizes that pain and suffering – especially serious trauma – is worthy of compensation. Your attorney will tell the court about your life since the accident and how it’s been disrupted. That will influence how much you are given in a verdict or a settlement.

PTSD is a serious issue. Get help from a mental health professional as soon as you can. And when you’re ready to pursue legal action, contact a personal injury attorney or a car accident lawyer. Your mental health is precious to us, your loved ones, and the professionals who will care for you. Take action and get on the road to recovery. You can do this!

PTSD symptoms may not appear immediately after a traumatic event. It can take days, weeks, or even months for them to fully manifest. However, if symptoms persist for more than a month, it is important to seek professional help, as they may be indicative of PTSD.

Ready to work together? Contact us today for a free consultation.


If you or a loved one have been injured and think you might have a case, call us now for a free consultation.