We all know that even the most minor car accident can result in body injuries, many of which might manifest after days, even months after the actual incident. But, what about the emotional and psychological damage that accidents cause? These can have equally dramatic consequences for us and they do not necessarily become evident immediately after the incident either. When you have been in a crash, you know that calling up your car accident doctor is a priority task. Sadly, you often overlook the need to get yourself evaluated for emotional scarring.
Some Startling Facts about Car Accidents and PTSD
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) points out that more than three million Americans suffer injuries in vehicle accidents every year. Studies have indicated that traffic accidents like these are the leading cause of stress symptoms such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Almost 10 percent of car crash survivors develop these symptoms while many other have similar stress reactions that are less severe, anxiety disorders or depression. Clearly, you are at the risk of some emotional trauma if you are involved in such incidents and overlooking this fact may be downright dangerous. According to the American Psychologists Association report, failing to diagnose PTSD soon after the accident and delaying the treatment can result in lifelong PTSD.
The Challenge in Diagnosing PTSD
One of the biggest challenges in diagnosing PTSD is that it may not make an appearance in every MVA (Major Vehicle Accident) victim. Plus, it can affect different people in completely different ways. Say, for instance, there are three people who have been in the same vehicle at the time of a major accident. It is possible that one of them exhibits absolutely no signs of any emotional trauma while the second has mild anxiety attacks but the third suffers from debilitating PTSD. In recent times, with the growing awareness that MVAs can result in significant psychological damage, both emergency care personnel and general physicians are paying more attention to this aspect when their patient comes to them after such an incident. However, it is in your best interest to bring to the attention of your physician, any changes in your emotional state after you have been through a car accident.
How PTSD Affects You
PTSD can have life changing impact on you, at times preventing you from carrying out tasks that you have been doing all your life. In a case mentioned on the AAFP site, the victim found himself unable to drive after his accident.
If you experience any of the following, you too may be suffering from PTSD:
- You continuously relive the incident, feeling sensations that you experienced when it actually happened. You have hallucinations that make the accident seem like it is happening right now.
- You have recurrent dreams of the event. Either you recall the same sequence of events or a slightly different version.
- You feel extreme psychological distress when you come across events, situations or cues that remind you of the accident.
- You avoid stimuli that are associated with the accident. For instance, you may stop using the road on which you had the accident or the car you were driving when you crashed.
PTSD can have an impact on many facets of your life that seem unrelated to the actual incident, such as your ability to show affection or your ability to make decisions. These are symptoms that your car accident doctor can treat provided you discuss these changes with them in time. So, if you have been in a car crash, remember to look beyond the cuts, scratches and broken bones that you suffer and ensure that your psyche is brought back to health as well as your body.