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The Dangers of PTSD After a Car Accident


Car accidents can be scary and life-altering experiences. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the crash, victims can suffer from serious injuries and long-term disabilities. However, not all car accident injuries are physical.

Many people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a collision. This mental health condition can have a major impact on your daily life, impacting your relationships, ability to work, and overall well-being.

What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD is a mental illness that develops after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. This condition is often associated with military veterans who served in active combat, but people can develop PTSD after a wide range of life-altering events. First responders, victims of abuse, and people injured in car accidents can develop this condition.

Symptoms of PTSD are categorized into four clusters: avoidance; intrusive memories; negative changes in mood; and changes in physical and emotional reactions.

  • Avoidance: A person with PTSD may try to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event, as well as avoid places, activities, or individuals who trigger memories of the event.
  • Intrusive Memories: People with PTSD may have recurrent and unwanted memories of the traumatic event. This may manifest in dreams, nightmares, and flashbacks. Patients may also experience severe emotional or physical reactions to triggers that remind them of the event.
  • Negative Changes in Mood: People with PTSD may feel numb, depressed, hopeless, and unable to experience positive emotions. They may struggle with close relationships and feel detached from the world.
  • Changes in Physical and Emotional Reactions: People with PTSD are often easily startled or frightened and on high alert. They may engage in self-destructive behavior, experience difficulty sleeping or concentrating, or be extremely irritable or aggressive.

Developing PTSD After a Car Accident

PTSD after a car accident is shockingly common. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 39.2% of people who survive a car accident will develop this condition.

It is normal to feel scared or nervous to drive after a collision. However, people with PTSD develop symptoms that interfere with their daily lives.

They may experience overwhelming feelings of fear and anxiety when getting behind the wheel. They may not be able to drive or get into a vehicle at all. They may actively avoid going on freeways or traveling near where the accident happened.

If you notice severe and frequent symptoms of PTSD after a car accident, it is critical to seek medical attention as soon as you can. Prompt treatment can help reduce the impact of PTSD and help you better manage your symptoms. 

 Your Legal Options After a Portland Car Accident

The moments after a car accident can be scary, but help is available in these situations. If you are injured in a Portland motor vehicle collision, you have the right to file an insurance claim or a lawsuit against the driver responsible for your accident.

Through your claim, you can recover compensation for the treatment that you need to care for your injuries, including counseling for PTSD. You can also secure damages for lost wages, vehicle repairs, and pain and suffering.

As soon as possible following your accident, seek medical care. Then, contact an accident lawyer in Portland to discuss your case and strategize your next steps.