Motor Vehicle Accidents Considered Leading Cause of PTSD in General Population

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is real and it we see it in clients we serve who have been in car accidents or have been a witness to a traumatic crash. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision, the criteria for PTSD states a person must have experienced, witnessed, or been confronted by an event that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, to which he responded with intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

Motor vehicle accident (MVA) survivors with PTSD often have nightmares and intrusive memories. They often avoid talking about the accident and abstain from or be fearful of driving or traveling by car. They may fear and avoid anything that reminds them of the motor vehicle accident — people, places and activities that remind them of the crash that can trigger upsetting reactions, such as anxiety, tachycardia (excessive heart beat), and panic. You may find your loved one to be irritable, detached, or estranged from your family, or have difficulty sleeping or concentrating.

For the person who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic car accident, they should first visit their physician or emergency room for treatment of injuries and then begin to see a therapist if they notice they’re not getting over symptoms of trauma. The following symptoms are often seen:

Behavioral Symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Survivor’s guilt
  • Self-blame
  • Shame
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Homicidal thoughts

Cognitive Symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating or paying attention
  • Memory Problems
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Feeling slowed down or fatigued

Physical Symptoms:

  • Chronic pain
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Insomnia or excess sleep

In the second edition of After the Crash: Psychological Assessment and Treatment of Survivors of Motor Vehicle Accidents, published by the American Psychological Association (APA), a Co-Morbity Survey was examined of over 8,000 individuals. Close to 40 percent of the sample who did not receive mental health treatment for PTSD resulting from either a MVA or other cause within six years after the trauma continued to suffer from PTSD as long as 10 years after the initial trauma.

A decade is a very long time for PTSD to negatively impact your ability to work, earn a living and that’s why you must consult with an attorney. You may be able to get compensation for the disorder as part of an injury-related insurance claim or in a personal injury lawsuit. You deserve to resume a normal life. Call us today at 912-232-8500 to discuss your particular situation.