What is PTSD?
PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. People often associate this with what veterans of war often cope with, but it can be diagnosed in anyone who has experienced trauma.
Depending on the circumstances, you may experience some form of PTSD or trauma from a car accident that goes beyond physical injuries. You might not realize what it is at first but read on to learn what kind of symptoms you should look for and what you can do to get help.
Common causes, as related to car accidents:
- Guilt for causing injury or death to a person
- Near death experiences, for either yourself or a loved one
- A preventable accident that was caused by someone else’s recklessness
- A preventable accident that you caused by inattention or recklessness
- Unresolved outcome from an injurious accident
- Trouble sleeping or concentrating
- Feeling jumpy or unreluctant to get in a car and/or drive
- Irrational irritability, especially when confronted with questions or details of the accident
- Avoidance of dealing with the consequences of the accident
- Road rage in response to careless drivers
- Overwhelming guilt or shame
How to Cope
Some people may experience one or more of the above symptoms right after an accident, or if resolutions become elusive and/or consequences linger on. As injuries heal and insurance claims are resolved, if you still find yourself experiencing these symptoms, you may be experiencing PTSD.
Here are some ways to cope with PTSD from an accident:
- Accept that the accident happened. Even if you feel it could have been prevented, acceptance is the first step to healing from trauma.
- Try to get back to driving as soon as you can. The longer you delay getting back in a car, the harder it will be.
- Take “low stakes” drives to rebuild confidence and your comfort level. Take short drives to familiar places that you’ve driven many times before safely.
- Forgive yourself and strive to do better if you know that you caused the accident. Practice avoiding the task that caused the accident in the first place (ie, reaching for a phone, speaking to kids in the backseat).
- Seek assistance in resolving the consequences of the accident, which may include compensation through filing a lawsuit.
If you continue to feel like you are experiencing unmanageable PTSD, reach out to a therapist to help you. You may just be feeling overwhelmed, trying to figure out your options. Remember that you can also reach out to our offices to help sort through the paperwork and know your options beyond what an insurance company can do in seeking compensation.
Don’t live with the anxiety that can come from trauma. Take small, actionable steps to get yourself back to the life you deserve.