Dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress After a Car Accident
Car crashes and collisions generally happen quickly, with little warning, yet the impacts of an accident can be felt for months and even years after the event. Even a seemingly minor car accident can result in serious injuries that can impact your ability to work or engage in family activities and hobbies you once enjoyed—and the emotional consequences can be just as severe. With the increasing number of motor vehicle accidents that occur in the United States each year, the medical community is becoming more aware of the number of people suffering acute anxiety and stress disorders as a result of being in a car accident.
Post-Traumatic Stress and Car Accident Victims
According to the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP), over three million people are injured as the result of car accidents each year in the U.S., all of whom are at risk for suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the days, weeks and months following the event. The AAFP reports that most people will be involved in a crash or collision at some point in their lives, and car accidents are now so common that they have risen to become the top leading cause of PTSD cases since the Vietnam War. Symptoms of PTSD include the following:
- Having nightmares and intrusive thoughts about the accident
- Feelings of reliving the event when in a car or in situations similar to when the accident occurred
- Generalized feelings of anxiety in other social situations
- Being excessively startled and upset by loud noises
- Increased irritability or angry outbursts since the accident
- Being hypervigilant in terms of trying to prevent another accident, and being obsessively worried that another accident will occur
Symptoms can vary in terms of severity, and even a newscast or hearing a story about a car accident can trigger heightened anxiety and agitation. Victims may find themselves feeling increasingly depressed and isolated, and it may become increasingly difficult to form and maintain relationships or to meet their daily responsibilities.
Treatment for PTSD
Victims of PTSD need to be aware that their reaction is common, and that help is available. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) states that PTSD can be treated through medications as well as through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT involves compassionately confronting the feelings the victim has about the accident, while making small strides in participating in actual activities that help them overcome their fear. Methods used may include:
- Exposure therapy, which involves having the victim imagine themselves driving, as well as visiting the site where the accident happened
- Cognitive restructuring, which helps the victim come to terms with and make sense of memories about the accident
- Stress training, which offers methods for dealing with anxiety, such as deep breathing exercises
- Virtual reality treatments, which involve using simulated models to help victims confront their fears safely
A South Carolina Car Accident Attorney Can Help
If you or someone you care about has been injured in a car accident, contact Anastopoulo Law Firm. Our experienced South Carolina car accident attorneys understand the serious impacts you may be facing, as well as the medical costs and lost wages that often result. We can advise you on how to get the compensation you need to recover, including damages such as pain, suffering, and mental anguish.
Contact us today for a free consultation on your case.