Can An Auto Accidents Cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Posted on Feb 26, 2009

In a book published by the American Psychological Association called “After the Crash: Assessment and Treatment of Motor Vehicle Accident Survivors,” it reports that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The book also reports that over three million people are injured physically, psychologically or both.

Related: Brain Injuries in Car Accidents

What is PTSD?
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event. During these events, something horrible and frightening has happened where the person has a sense of helplessness. They may also feel like their life or the lives of others are in danger. Many people may believe that PTSD can only be developed by war veterans, but this is not true. The truth is that any life-threatening event can cause this disorder. Some of the common events are:

  • Combat or military exposure
  • Child sexual or physical abuse
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Sexual or physical assault
  • Serious accidents, such as a car wreck
  • Natural disasters, such as a fire, tornado, hurricane, flood or earthquake
  • Being diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness
  • Finding the body of someone who has committed suicide

What are some of the symptoms of PTSD?
There are many symptoms of PTSD. Some include:

  • Distressing thoughts or images
  • Be very startled when someone surprises you
  • Nightmares about the event
  • Feeling or acting as if the traumatic event is reoccurring
  • Fear for your safety and always feel on guard
  • Intense psychological distress when exposed to something that triggers memories of the traumatic event
  • Physical symptoms such as sweating, muscle tension and rapid heartbeat when exposed to things that trigger memories of the traumatic event
  • Suddenly become angry or irritable
  • Have a hard time sleeping
  • Have trouble concentrating

After a car accident, the physical injuries are immediately treated. However, psychological injuries could go unnoticed. People need to understand that there may be more psychological injuries after an accident, and they need to be prepared to treat them. Also, be aware that the symptoms can last for a long time.

Related: Traumatic Brain Injury

If you or someone you know is suffering from a psychological injury, make sure to see a doctor first. You will need to tell your doctor how you feel, and they will help you recover. No injury is a good injury. Also, always see a doctor after an accident. This is good for your health and is also good for your accident case. Why you ask? It's because the other party's insurance company will be looking for ways to not compensate you for your injuries. If the other party's insurance company sees that you did not see a doctor right away, and you are claiming to have an injury, they will state that if you were really injured, then you would have seen a doctor right away. If there is a gap between your accident and the doctor's appointment, that will hurt your case.