Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is no longer a condition associated primarily with servicemen and women who have returned from war. Mental health professionals recognize that all types of physical, emotional and sexual trauma can cause PTSD. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause. In fact, the National Institutes of Mental Health has determined that nearly 40% of survivors of crashes develop PTSD.
Whether you’re among this group depends on a number of factors specific to the crash itself as well as your own history of trauma and other psychological issues. It can even depend on how much support you receive after being in an accident.
It’s not always the severity of a crash or a person’s injuries that determine whether they’ll suffer from PTSD afterward. A bigger factor can be how much danger they perceived themselves to be in at the time.
For example, maybe you were able to swerve off the road to avoid a wrong-way driver and suffered relatively minor injuries when you landed in a ditch. However, those few seconds when you thought you were going to die can stay with you well after the physical injuries have healed.
If you’ve been involved in a car crash, you may need psychological treatment as well as medical treatment. It’s essential to consider that when you’re seeking compensation from an at-fault driver, their insurance company and others who may have some liability.
It’s not unusual to experience one or more of the following after a crash, as well as other changes in your mental health that negatively impact your life:
- Intrusive memories of the crash
- Negative changes in your mood or thinking
- Changes in the way you react to things emotionally
- Avoidance behaviors, like being unable to get behind the wheel again or to go near the scene of the crash
Often, these symptoms subside, and people get back to feeling more or less like your old selves. However, if they don’t, it’s wise to talk with a mental health professional who can give you the tools you need to work through what you’ve experienced and determine why it’s continuing to impact you.
Even if you don’t have PTSD, if you need psychological help to recover from the crash, that expense is just as valid as your hospital bills. Your attorney can help you work to get the compensation you need to cover it.