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What Are the Symptoms of PTSD Following a Car Accident?


The consequences of a car accident to a victim often extend beyond a broken leg or whiplash.  Not only can a serious collision harm you physically or financially, it may also harm you mentally and emotionally.  But we know as well as you do that these psychological injuries are just as real as any others to those who are forced to deal with them.
One complication that many car accident injury victims report experiencing is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  This condition can inhibit a victim’s ability to function as they once did at even the most basic levels.  What makes PTSD so dangerous is that victims may not be able to easily identify it, particularly in the days and even weeks following the accident.  You should be aware of the signs of PTSD and how you may be able to recover damages for your condition through a car accident injury lawsuit.
At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, we recognize the difficulties associated with pursuing a recovery for injuries that make everyday life so difficult.  That is why we offer every potential client a free first-time consultation with our dedicated Annapolis car accident lawyers.  Together, you and your lawyer can assess the merits of your case and estimate how much you stand to gain by pursuing it in court.  Call our offices at (410) 694-7291 to schedule your first appointment today.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

The condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that has been recognized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) for many years.  the disorder typically manifests in a person as a result of a traumatic event.  What researchers have discovered about PTSD is that it typically leads to a number of psychological responses that can impact the way a person sleeps, processes emotions, reacts to situations that remind them of the trauma, and maintains close personal relationships.
Comorbidity is common for PTSD patients.  the term “comorbidity” refers to a condition that often presents with other associated conditions.  Studies have suggested that depression, mood disorders, substance use disorders, and other anxiety disorders have high comorbidity rates with PTSD.

Identifying Symptoms of PTSD After a Car Accident

Recognizing the telltale signs of PTSD after a car accident can be critical for obtaining a diagnosis and beginning the process of recovery.  Below are some of the most common identifiable symptoms that should give you concern about the possibility that you have sustained PTSD after a car accident.

Headaches

Just because you suffer from headaches after a car accident does not mean that you have PTSD.  However, it has been shown through research that car accident injury victims who suffer from chronic headaches have a 50% prevalence rate for PTSD.  the research suggests that the reasoning for this could have to do with the physical and psychological impairment that come with headaches and the coping strategies that victims use to relieve their pain.  If you are experiencing chronic headaches after a car accident, do not attempt to treat yourself.  Seek professional help as soon as possible to avoid the worsening of your condition.

Trouble Sleeping

One of the most common issues with PTSD patients is the imprinted memories of the traumatic event.  These memories can cause a victim to experience vivid and terrifying nightmares that disturb the sleep cycle.  Further, due to the complicated nature of dreams, PTSD victims may not even realize that their disturbed sleep is due to nightmares.  This can cause people to consciously or subconsciously avoid sleeping or find it difficult to actually get to sleep.  Sleep deprivation has a variety of consequences on physical and mental health, potentially aggravating comorbidities, and should be addressed wherever present.

Mood and Temper Changes

People struggling with PTSD often find that they are quicker to anger and less tolerant than they were previously.  Sometimes, it takes a frank conversation with a family member or loved one to bring this symptom to light.  If you find yourself flying off the handle and later can’t remember why, you may not just be in a bad mood.  You may have a diagnosable condition.  the good news is that this condition is both treatable and compensable.

Flashbacks

You may be familiar with the flashback symptom of PTSD, as it is the most widely documented in television and movies.  You should know, however, that flashbacks are not necessarily present in every case of PTSD.  If you are experiencing episodes where you are forced to replay the traumatic event in your mind, you should seek help immediately rather than wait and hope that the episodes just go away on their own.

The PTSD Checklist

The most common form of screening for PTSD is a 17-item checklist sheet called the PTSD Checklist (or PCL).  Patients respond to these items by rating each symptom on a scale of one to five, based on how much the symptom has bothered them over the past month.  If the total score of the screening is above a certain cutoff, the patient will be recommended for a more extensive diagnostic evaluation.
The particular cutoff in any given instance depends on a number of factors, including the age and sex of the patient and the nature of the trauma that they underwent.  We do not suggest that you attempt to diagnose yourself.  If you are struggling with any of the symptoms above or contained on the PCL, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Treatment of PTSD Symptoms After a Car Accident

Every case of PTSD is different.  You should speak with your medical professional to determine what course of treatment will work best for you.  Most treatment plans will consist of lifestyle changes and a course of cognitive behavioral therapy.  These remedies can come at a cost, but you may be able to recover that cost through a lawsuit against the party responsible for the accident.

Suffering from PTSD After a Car Accident? Get Legal Advice Today for Free

The knowledgeable Baltimore car accident attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras believe that every car accident injury victim suffering from PTSD deserves to know their legal rights.  You can find out more today by calling our offices at (410) 694-7291.