Accident victims often suffer not only physical injuries, but mental ones as well. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is an anxiety disorder caused by exposure to trauma. Many soldiers acquire PTSD from witnessing the horrors of war.
Victims in a motor vehicle accident, especially if it involves physical trauma, can also suffer traumatic stress, and develop PTSD. Other kinds of events can cause traumatic stress too, such as a dog attack, robbery, assault or abuse. The most common symptoms we see in some clients are uncontrolled anxiety, and panic. Some people become unwilling to ride in a car, from fear of an horrific accident.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV, explains the following elements that usually accompany the diagnosis of PTSD:
1. Exposure to a traumatic event
2. Persistent re-experience (e.g. flashbacks, nightmares)
3. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma (e.g. inability to talk about things even related to the experience. Avoidance of things and discussions that trigger flashbacks and re-experiencing symptoms. Fear of losing control.)
4. Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (e.g. difficulty falling or staying asleep, anger or hypervigilance)
5. Duration of symptoms more than 1 month
6. Significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (e.g. problems with work and relationships.)
If you have suffered an injury and are having symptoms like these, please see a health care provider. Living with PTSD is a reality for many, and a medical professional can help.