Can You Get PTSD After a Car Accident?

woman with ptsd from a car accident on the ground covering her head

In the 21st century, we rely on our cars for transportation more than ever before. Even in urban areas where many residents do not have cars, you are still using buses and public transportation to travel. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, over 3,000 people die each day worldwide due to car accidents. Although you may have never been in an accident personally, you definitely know someone who has. No one plans for an accident, but it can happen in the blink of an eye. If you have unfortunately had a car accident, you know the physical and emotional stress it can cause. You know you need a car accident injury specialist at the ready. But did you know you could get PTSD from a car accident?

Integrated Injury Specialists was specifically created to help patients who are suffering from things such as this.

Can you get PTSD from a car accident?

PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. It develops after highly traumatic and stressful events. PTSD is usually associated with soldiers or victims of mass shootings. However, there are other situations that can cause this disorder to develop. It is reported that about 9% of the general public who are involved in a car accident will develop some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Although this may seem like a small percentage of those involved in a car accident, it is a quite large number. Around 3 million people are injured in car accidents every year, so approximately 270,000 people every year experience PTSD from a car accident. Some factors that increase the risk of PTSD are:

  • Having multiple traumatic events in your life
  • Having a disposition for anxiety
  • Severe situational experiences
  • Death being involved
  • Not seeking support afterward
  • Extreme emotional response.

Symptoms of PTSD

No matter how small a car accident, it is stressful and traumatic, so everyone will have some emotional response to it. Feelings of unease and worry are normal after a car accident, but the chronic problem of PTSD develops if they don’t go away over time. You may feel one, or many, of these emotions on the days and weeks following a car accident: shock, disbelief, anxiety, anger, fear, and guilt. Emotional responses themselves are not a symptom of PTSD, but the length and intensity of the emotion become the symptom. If the anxiety and uneasiness of driving, or being on the streets, never goes away, you may have PTSD. Also, having constant nightmares or obsessively thinking about the accident are also symptoms of PTSD. Essentially, if the negative emotions never subside, then you should seek professional support.

How to Improve PTSD

Even if you don’t believe you developed PTSD from a car accident, these tips are very useful in all traumatic instances. The most important thing you can do is talk to friends or a therapist about what you are feeling. Just like with any disorder that causes extreme emotional discomfort, therapy can be helpful. By releasing some of the emotional pressure that is building, you can begin to reconcile with what happened.

If you were injured in the accident, don’t let it disrupt your life. If you broke a leg, you obviously can’t go for a run but continue to see your friends, go to events, and stay active. The more time you have to obsess over the accident, the worse it will get. Use this as a learning opportunity, whether it was your fault or not, to be a more alert and defensive driver. Bad things will always happen in our lives, but use the bad to produce some good.

Finally, talk with a doctor about your injuries or physical ailments. Although PTSD can be worse than any physical injuries you may sustain, focus on what you can fix. Talk with Integrated Injury Specialists about physical therapy or recovery options. Taking things one step at a time and regaining your life may seem daunting, but eventually, you can recover the part of your life that was lost to PTSD.