There are more than 6 million car accidents every single year in the United States. Those accidents range from minor fender benders to more severe and fatal head-on collisions.
Every person who is involved in a car accident handles the emotional aftermath differently. While some can brush off the anxieties and fear, others may suffer from more debilitating symptoms.
After an accident, it is natural to experience a wide range of emotions, including anger, shock, guilt, and fear. You may feel uneasy or anxious in the few days or weeks following the crash. Many of these feelings are normal and a way for your body to cope with the accident.
Sometimes, however, these feelings can become so overwhelming that they impact your ability to function in your daily life. When this occurs, accident victims may be diagnosed with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
What is PTSD?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD is classified as a psychiatric disorder that affects people who have witnessed or experienced a traumatic life event. Serious car accidents, assault, rape, and natural disasters can all cause PTSD.
Car accident victims with PTSD may have intense or disturbing thoughts related to their traumatic accident for months or even years. These flashbacks can evoke painful and powerful emotions, such as anger, sadness, or fear.
To avoid these flashbacks and painful memories, accident victims may start to avoid situations, events, and people that could trigger these feelings. This may result in withdrawing from their lives and from the people who love them.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of PTSD
In general, there are four categories of PTSD symptoms. People living with PTSD exhibits and experiences their trauma differently. As such, some may experience numerous symptoms in one category and only a few in another.
The four categories of PTSD symptoms include:
- Intrusive Thoughts
- Upsetting dreams
- Involuntary memories
- Avoiding Reminders
- Avoidance of people, places, or things
- Resistance talking about event or feelings
- Negative Thoughts and Feelings
- Guilt or shame
- Feeling detached
- Arousal and Reactivity
- Angry outbursts
- Reckless behavior
- Self-destructive behaviors
- Problems concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
For an accident victim to be diagnosed with PTSD, they must have symptoms that last for more than a month. However, it is important to know that it can take months after an accident before the symptoms of PTSD become apparent.
Symptoms of PTSD also occur alongside other conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse. This can make it difficult to diagnose PTSD accurately.
Treatment for PTSD
Not everyone who is injured in a catastrophic car accident will develop PTSD. In addition, not everyone with PTSD will require psychiatric treatment. However, many people who develop PTSD after a car accident require professional treatment to recover from the psychological distress that has engulfed their lives. The earlier an accident victim gets treatment, the better the outcome.
Treatment for PTSD typically involves both psychotherapy and medication.
One area of psychotherapy that can be particularly beneficial to an accident victim living with PTSD is cognitive behavior therapy. This type of therapy involves modifying the painful negative emotions and beliefs.
Cognitive behavior therapy can help an accident victim confront the stressful and upsetting memories and emotions and alter these negative emotions to better process the trauma.
Medication is also helpful when trying to manage and control the symptoms of PTSD. Antidepressants, such as SSRIs and SNRIs, are often used to treat the core symptoms of PTSD alongside psychotherapy.
Other types of medications that can be used include anti-anxiety medications and sleep aids.
Contact Our Experienced Washington DC Car Accident Lawyers
When you are injured in a car accident in Washington DC, you may suffer from the debilitating effects of PTSD. PTSD victims need help managing their symptoms and processing the traumatic events they experienced. This can take considerable time and resources.
As such, it is important to contact an experienced Washington D.C. car accident lawyer as soon as you are able. Your attorney can negotiate with insurance companies during this time, so you can obtain the money you need to put your life back together again.
At Patrick Malone & Associates, our Washington DC car accident attorneys are ready to help you. To learn more about your legal rights after a devastating injury accident, contact our law firm by calling (202) 742-1500 or (888) 625-6635 or filling out our confidential contact form. We offer a free initial consultation for all injured accident victims and can help you choose the legal path that is best for you. Call today!