Can a car accident cause PTSD?

Being involved in a serious car accident can cause significant physical damage. Car accidents can also increase your risk of experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is a condition that affects you mentally and emotionally. Very Well Mind explains the link between PTSD and car accidents, and how you can get help if you’re experiencing any symptoms.

Signs of PTSD

If you’ve been in a car accident recently, you may experience anxiety while driving. You may feel so stressed that you attempt to avoid driving altogether or refuse to drive under certain circumstances (such as at night or on highways). You may also have a panicked response to car horns or other situations that remind you of an accident. While these symptoms aren’t always an indication of PTSD, if they persist long after your accident or become more frequent, it’s best to seek help.

Risk factors

Not everyone who is in a car accident will develop PTSD. In fact, there are certain risk factors that indicate how likely a person is to experience issues. In general, life-threatening events tend to have the greatest impact on a person’s psyche. Your mental well-being prior to the accident also plays a role, as people with preexisting mental illness are most likely to have a problem. Also, if you lack a strong support network, you’re more likely to experience the above symptoms.

How to get help

Therapy is recommended for anyone experiencing symptoms to PTSD. There are many different types of therapy available, some of which will focus on changing your behavior while others attempt to modify your thinking. Depending on the severity of the issue, you may also be given medication. No matter what you do, it’s best to get help as soon as possible to prevent more damaging effects from occurring. 

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