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Can you suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from a car accident?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that occurs after witnessing or being involved in a traumatic event. Being involved in a car accident can definitely cause PTSD, especially depending upon the severity of the accident.

PTSD symptoms are grouped into three categories:

Re-experiencing: triggering reminders of the accident

  • Frightening thoughts
  • Bad dreams
  • Flashbacks

Avoidance: a change in routine, including no longer driving, as a result of the accident

  • Trouble remembering aspects of the accident/event
  • Losing interest in activities and an overall feeling of depression
  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that remind one of the accident

Hyper-arousal – these symptoms are usually constant as opposed to being triggered. Similar to hyper-vigilance

  • Constant feeling of being ‘on-edge’
  • Easily startled
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Angry outbursts

In some people, these event last for a short period of time and are referred to Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). In others, symptoms do not present for several weeks, but evolve and escalate into long-term PTSD. For accident victims and survivors, the sounds of tires screeching or breaking glass can send them into a tailspin when PTSD is present. Though it does not occur in everyone, it does happen and should be treated by a professional.

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