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Automobile accidents have a resonating effect that can take some time to subside. Even the slightest accident can be a reminder of how fragile life is, putting people in an uncomfortable situation where they are forced to consider their mortality.
PTSD After Car Accident
For some people, those feelings never go away and even get worse after PTSD after car accident. Here are five signs of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after a motor vehicle accident
Ongoing or Debilitating Anxiety
It’s normal to have a bit of anxiety after an accident, especially when driving or getting behind the wheel for the first time after. What’s not normal is when these feelings persist and become overwhelming.
The development of anxiety is one of the common unseen injuries of a car accident. If you find yourself avoiding the area where the accident took place or experiencing physical symptoms— like heart palpitations— when thinking about the accident, these could be signs of PTSD after car accident.
Significant Mood Changes
You might be sore and tired after an accident. It’s common to experience feels of stress and frustration as a result of the bureaucracy associated with insurance claims, financial implications, and physical pain.
The shift from normal behavior to worrisome behavior comes in the form of outbursts of anger or tears. Things that didn’t bother you before might bother you now. You might overreact to things and not even be aware until someone brings it up.
If you’re noticing periods of highs and lows or the people around you mention how strange you’re acting, then it’s time to see a professional PTSD after car accident.
Sleep troubles are one of the more subtle symptoms of PTSD after car accident. You might feel wired and unable to relax or drift off to sleep. Alternatively, you could wake up throughout the night or feel restless. You might even develop nightmares or night terrors that disrupt your sleep patterns.
If your sleep pattern starts to change, do a self-assessment. In the weeks following the accident, your restlessness could be from stress or physical discomfort. However, if the situation gets dealt with and your injuries are healed, there could be a deeper underlying issue.
Intrusive Memories and Obsessive Thoughts
It’s not uncommon to think about the accident in the time following or to remember your experience. Again, there’s a fine line between what’s normal and what’s indicative of a problem. When your accident and the “what ifs” are all you can think of, that’s a problem. If these memories and obsessing over the accident distract you from your life, it’s time to reach out for help.
Intrusive memories are the ones that come out of nowhere or that you lack control over. In other words, you are unable to acknowledge the experience and let it go. With PTSD after car accident, this could even extend as far as flashbacks in which you get vivid images, sounds, or even smells from your accident.
Disconnect From People and Passions
A lot of people with PTSD after car accident think that they’re fine. They don’t have intrusive memories or problems sleeping. Their mood is steady. In fact, their mood might be completely deadpan.
If you’re feeling emotionally numb or disconnected from the people and things that usually bring you joy, you could be experiencing depression as a result of PTSD. Any feelings of “I don’t care” or “what’s the point?” are red flags that could escalate over time if left untreated.
What to Do Next
If you or someone close to you recognizes these symptoms, you must reach out for help as soon as possible. Talk to a friend or loved one, and consider reaching out to a professional. In the meantime, do what you can to get back into your daily routines and prioritize self-care.
Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of PTSD in America. Know that you’re not alone, and there are many resources available to help you in your time of need.