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Photo of Joshua Nielsen
Photo of Joshua Nielsen

What are the signs of PTSD following a car accident?

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2020 | car accidents

A serious car accident can have a wide range of effects on those involved. Physical injuries can cause chronic pain issues or immobility for months or even years after an accident. There are also possible emotional effects in accidents that were particularly serious or that cause severe injuries or loss of life. 

In this case, many accident victims experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While PTSD is often associated with combat veterans or people who have been involved in violent crimes and attacks, it can also result from motor vehicle accidents. Being able to recognize the following common signs of PTSD ensures you can get the help you need as soon as possible. 

Avoiding triggers of the event

People with PTSD will often be “triggered” by reminders of the traumatizing event. This leads to avoidance behaviors, which are intended to prevent being re-traumatized by any reminders. When the disorder is caused by a car accident, you may be unwilling to drive a vehicle on your own. You may also avoid riding in any vehicles at all, as the experience will only remind you of your accident. You may even want to avoid talking about driving altogether, or you might avoid other people who remind you of the accident, such as people who were present at the time it occurred. 

Experiencing intrusive memories

Despite the above attempts to avoid triggers, people with PTSD often experience intrusive thoughts of the event. These can be in the form of “flashbacks”, during which you re-live the event, or memories of it that seemingly appear out of nowhere. You may also fall victim to nightmares, which can disrupt your ability to sleep and contribute to further issues. 

Being physically or emotionally reactive

In addition to insomnia, people with PTSD are more likely to experience problems concentrating, irritability, aggressiveness, anger issues, and other emotional effects. You may also feel constantly on-guard, as though another damaging event is waiting right around the corner. This constant feeling of tension can lead to risk-taking behaviors, like excessive drinking, as an attempt to mitigate the emotional effects you are experiencing.