Re: Motor Vehicle Accidents and PTSD.


Although post traumatic stress disorder is correctly associated with military veterans, post traumatic stress disorder can affect anyone who experiences a traumatic event. According to the Mayo Clinic, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition which is triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. An individual can develop post-traumatic stress disorder by going through, seeing or learning about an event involving actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violation. [1]

Recently, researchers are looking more closely at motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) as a common cause of traumatic stress. In one large study, accidents were shown to be the traumatic event most frequently experienced by males (25%) and the second most frequent traumatic event experienced by females (13%) in the United States.  Additionally, studies of the general population have found that approximately 9% of MVA survivors develop PTSD.[2]

One aspect of MVA-related PTSD that is different from PTSD caused by other traumas is the increased likelihood of being injured or developing a chronic pain condition following the trauma. As a result, many people who have been in an MVA present first to their primary care physicians for treatment and do not consider psychological treatment for some time. Unfortunately, studies have shown that of the people who develop PTSD and do not seek psychological treatment, approximately half continue to have symptoms for more than six months or a year. Therefore, it is important to identify the symptoms early on and seek appropriate psychological treatment.[3]

Survivors of MVAs often also experience emotional distress as a result of such accidents. Mental health difficulties such as posttraumatic stress, depression, and anxiety are problems survivors of severe MVAs may exhibit. A number of different treatment approaches have proven effective for MVA-related PTSD. Treatments include behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, and medications. In addition, it may be useful to work with a chronic pain specialist to help manage the physical pain caused by the injury. Sometimes these treatments are provided in conjunction with one another. [4]

 If you have a motor vehicle accident and have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder as a result, make sure you seek treatment for your condition and contact an attorney who has some experience handling cases involving PTSD.