Can I develop post-traumatic stress disorder after a car accident?

patient talking to therapist for PTSDThe trauma of a serious car accident can lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that require treatment. If you are diagnosed with this condition, the person who caused your accident should be held liable for your treatment.

What Is PTSD?

PTSD is a psychological condition that affects people after they have been through a harrowing situation. It was initially referred to as "shell shock" in reference to the psychological struggle soldiers had upon returning home from World War I. Since then, it has become an official psychiatric diagnosis and is considered a form of mental illness.

Any traumatic, frightening, or stressful experience can cause PTSD—and that includes car accidents, which can be disturbingly violent and gruesome. In fact, traffic accidents have become the leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder since the Vietnam War. PTSD manifests differently in different people, making it a challenge to identify and treat.

Symptoms of PTSD

Car accident victims who suffer from this disorder might experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Avoidance. Victims don’t want to think about or talk about the traumatic event. They might not be able to drive or even ride in a car without having a panic attack.
  • Flashbacks. Car accident victims who develop PTSD often experience flashbacks to the crash, making it difficult to move on.
  • Behavior changes. People with PTSD might experience more intense emotions than they had prior to the event. This can also cause the person to have trouble sleeping.
  • Mood swings. Sufferers might suddenly feel depressed or even suicidal, even if they are not having flashbacks to the specific event. They might stop enjoying activities and avoid friends and family.

Treatment for PTSD

There are several treatment options for people diagnosed with PTSD after a car accident. These include different kinds of therapies, including cognitive processing therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, and eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing, as well as medication for depression and anxiety.

Why You Need a Lawyer If You Have PTSD After a Car Accident

Although your injuries might not be physical, you may still deserve compensation after a car accident. Calling an attorney after an accident can seem daunting, but an experienced lawyer can ensure that your rights are protected, and you are able to obtain appropriate compensation to get the PTSD treatment you need to live your best life.