There is a 30 percent likelihood that signs of PTSD will show within the next 30 days following a motor vehicle accident.
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident it can be scary getting back out on the road. PTSD from car accidents is a very prominent side-effect that nearly half of car crash survivors develop.
PTSD from car accidents can be debilitating, and particularly difficult to recover from. If you feel you are experiencing signs of PTSD, seeking help is the first step to recovery.
Here are the five best ways to get back on your feet after a motor vehicle accident.
What Is PTSD?
It is important to understand the general information surrounding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) before assessing whether you have the symptoms.
PTSD is mostly known for affecting combat veterans involved in a war. However, this condition does not solely affect our war vets.
Roughly 3.5 percent of adults experience PTSD symptoms within their lifetime.
Events that lead to PTSD are:
- An assault or attack
- A terrorist attack
- Sexual assault
- Car accidents
The disorder is liable to pop up in anyone who has experienced a situation that will cause stress, fear, or triggers our body’s fight-or-flight response.
Signs of PTSD
Just because PTSD symptoms do not arise immediately, this does not mean they won’t in the future. Signs of post-traumatic stress disorder can show a month later.
These symptoms are intense, localized fear or stress over traumatic events.
PTSD causes intense fear, even disturbing thoughts, in individuals. These thoughts are not controllable.
These memories can creep up at any given time, causing a person to relive their trauma. The main symptom of intrusive memories is having intense flashbacks or night terrors.
People who undergo a traumatic event in their lives will often do their best to avoid reliving that event. If a topic comes up that causes a person to think back on their trauma, they will do their best not to think about it.
They will try to re-route the conversation in a different direction. People who experience avoidance will also avoid certain people and places that remind them of the event.
Those with PTSD will often experience mood changes such as feeling hopeless about the world or your future, becoming a number, or mentally blocking out any information about the event.
They also tend to become very detached from themselves and their own lives. This makes it hard to stay connected with friends and family.
The physical reactions are what people associate the most with PTSD. Loud bangs or noises can easily startle those with this disorder.
They can also be subject to aggressive behavior, excessive drinking, and extreme irritability. Those with PTSD may also be constantly aware of their surroundings and always on the lookout for danger.
What Is Normal After an MVA?
After a motor vehicle accident, it is normal to feel certain symptoms. These usually don’t point to PTSD right away.
Initially, you will be in shock, or think “How is this happening to me, right now?”. After the MVA, you are beside yourself, overwhelmed, anxious, and probably stressed out over the situation.
PTSD From Car Accidents
While it is normal to feel anxious, there are signs that PTSD is settling in from a car accident. If those feelings of anxiety and fear do not subside, then PTSD could be to blame.
Look at signs where:
- You fear cars
- The thought of driving causes you immense anxiety
- You cannot physically get into your car
- You have nightmares of the accident
- Watching car accidents on TV makes you uncomfortable
- Sudden movements or noises cause you to alarm
If you are experiencing these factors, it might be time to call a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. It would be helpful to hire an attorney after a car accident to aid in any legal matters.
Regarding physical or mental health, you can learn about these attorneys and see how they can help you with personal injury claims.
5 Ways To Get Back on Your Feet
After a car crash, the most important thing to do is allow yourself to heal. That doesn’t just mean your injuries.
Your mind needs too heal, too.
Auto accidents cause mental trauma just as much as they do physical trauma. There are a few key elements you can implement to help you recover.
1. Go To a Doctor
No matter what, the first thing you should do after an MVA is follow up with a doctor. Make sure you haven’t sustained any serious injuries from the accident.
While you are at the doctor’s, ask about any PTSD symptoms you are experiencing. The doctor will ask you questions to diagnose PTSD such as:
- Have you had experienced avoidance?
- Have you had extreme reactions to sensory stimuli?
- Do you have mood changes?
- Do you have nightmares?
- Do you have a flashback?
Along with the list of questions your doctor asks, you can ask your questions regarding PTSD. Do not be afraid to ask about:
- How long does PTSD last?
- Does PTSD go away?
- Should I see a therapist?
- Should I be medicated?
Before heading to the doctor, make a list of your symptoms and questions so you do not forget.
2. Talk About It
Opening up about PTSD is frightening. Some people are even embarrassed to admit they are experiencing symptoms of a mental disorder.
Be that as it may, talking to a close friend or family member will ease your mind. Make sure the person you confide in is empathic.
Verbally expressing your trauma is very therapeutic.
Exercise will help in several ways. If you have physical injuries from your crash, exercise will help ease the pain.
Stretching is especially handy to alleviate tense muscles or spasms.
Along with pain relief, comes mental relief. Exercise releases endorphins that naturally help your mood to turn to a more positive track.
If you are experiencing bouts of depression, schedule light to a moderate exercise routine you can perform every day.
4. Face Your Fears
PTSD causes many people to fear cars altogether.
For example, some people can sit in the car but cannot bring themselves to drive somewhere. Meanwhile, PTSD may be so bad that the thought of getting into a car makes you sick.
Many therapists will tell you the best way to overcome a fear is by forcing yourself to do it.
Start small in the beginning. Drive through the parking lot or to a nearby store. You could even sit in the passenger seat as another person drives to ease yourself back into the act of driving.
5. Take a Defensive Driving Course
Getting into a car may be frightening to those with PTSD from a car accident. If you are terrified of others driving around you it might be time to look into a defensive driving course.
You cannot control others on the road, but you can control how you react to bad drivers. Defensive driving programs make you more aware of your surroundings.
If someone else is being unsafe, you will know how to implement the proper road safety techniques. Knowing how to handle emergency road situations will make you feel more comfortable behind the wheel.
Figuring out how to recover from PTSD from car accidents will take time. Don’t rush anything, go at your own pace, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help if your PTSD symptoms worsen.
Thrive Global was founded to help with mental health. We have a well-being page that targets personal development issues and gives tips on our to heal.
We want everyone to unlock their best potential and live their lives to the fullest. If you need any help for PTSD or anything in regards to mental health, feel free to ask us for help.
We are more than happy to hear from you!