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Car crashes can sometimes cause trauma and post-traumatic stress

Dec 2, 2023 | Accidents

Discussions of trauma often focused on criminal activity or war. However, people can experience trauma through less extreme circumstances. Individuals involved in motor vehicle collisions where they fear for their lives or witness extreme injuries to others may have a trauma response to the incident.

Some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after surviving a serious motor vehicle collision. What do drivers need to understand about trauma, PTSD and car crashes?

The symptoms may not be immediate

People don’t immediately feel intense fear or other trauma symptoms after a car crash. Instead, they will be eager to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. It will be hours or sometimes days later that they start to recognize how they continue to perseverate on the crash.

They may feel anxious when they see certain types of vehicles or hear certain noises. Their stress levels may skyrocket when they need to travel in a motor vehicle or drive. Early signs of PTSD can include difficulty sleeping, challenges relating to other people, disruptions in daily life and intrusive memories. Someone coping with crash-related trauma may have a harder time taking care of their family and running errands. Occasionally, their symptoms will impact their ability to do their job well.

There are tools for handling trauma

There are many steps that people can take to manage the emotional trauma of a car crash. Seeing a medical professional and arranging for a mental health evaluation are smart moves. People may also want to journal as a way to establish a trauma timeline that identifies elements of this incident and other experiences that prompt a trauma response.

Regular sessions with a counselor or attending a support group can also be beneficial for those struggling to overcome fear, intrusive thoughts and risk aversion after a car crash. There is even some research that shows that taking the time to play a few rounds of Tetris could help someone process the trauma of a car crash and avoid the development of more serious PTSD symptoms.

In theory, either car insurance coverage or a personal injury lawsuit can help someone cover the costs associated with mental trauma after a car crash. Connecting one’s emotional struggles to a collision, and seeking medical and legal guidance accordingly, can help someone potentially obtain the support they need.

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