You Can Get PTSD From a Car Accident (and How to Recover)

Image for article titled You Can Get PTSD From a Car Accident (And How to Recover)

photo: southworks (Shutterstock)

Mid 20ss, I was hit by a car on my way to school. Mistaking the median for an extra turning lane, the elderly driver collided with three pedestrians, including me. In one moment, I was a stressed-out graduate student worried about finishing her experiments; In the next moment, I looked over and saw the tan hood of a car heading straight for me, followed by oblivion. When I woke up I was lying on the sidewalk covered in blood and in more pain than everincluding birth.

In the weeks and months after the accident, I had frequent nightmares where I kept getting hit by a car. I started having too Panic attacks every time I saw a car coming my way, whether I was in a car or standing on the sidewalk. Driving became impossible.

After the accident, I had developed post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, which is characterized by nightmares or flashbacks of the traumatic event, avoidance of situations that evoke memories of the traumatic event, and hyper-Vigilance that may include Panic attacks or the constant feeling of nervousness.

Although PTSD is often thought of in connection with war veterans, it can happen civilians, also with Car accidents are one of the most common causes. Given how painful, frightening, and unpredictable can be a car accident, The development of PTSD is all too common. “However, it is very treatable,” he said Jessica Rohrpsychologist at Houston Methodist Hospital.

Signs that you have developed PTSD

If you’ve been in a car accident, expect some anxiety in the days and weeks following the accident. “It’s really normal,” Rohr said. When this fear persists for too long and has long-term negative effects, it becomes PTSD.

SOh Signs of PTSD involve being in a constant state of hyper-Alertness, having intrusive thoughts about the accident (in the form of unwanted memories or nightmares)and Avoid situations that remind you of the trauma, such as how drive or get in a car.

If you’ve just been in a car accident, even if you weren’t injured in the accident, one of the most important things you can do in the days and weeks that follow is to take your recovery seriously. This may involve temporarily calling back some of your regular commitments some weeksto prioritize rest. “Pretend you’re in recovery because you are,” Rohr said.

It’s also a really good idea to reach out to your support network or friends or family. “The most important factor for resilience from trauma is social support,” Rohr said. This may include getting help from friends and family members in different ways, through bring you food Taking them to doctor appointments or just spending time together. “You don’t always have to talk about what happened for it to be helpful,” Rohr said.

Avoidance only makes it worse

After a traumatic accident, there is a great temptation to deal with the fears simply by avoiding the frightening triggers. However there Ron Aciernopsychologist at UT Health Houston who specializes in treating PTSD, warns: Avoidance is the worst thing you can do after a car accident. “That’s why people don’t drive for 10 years,” Acierno said. That’s because, as Rohr said, “Fear thrives on avoidance.”

Instead, the best treatment for PTSD resulting from a car accident is what is called graded exposure therapywhere a person finds their triggers in a safe, structured, and systematic to reduce their fear response. “No amount of therapy without that exposure is going to help you,” Acierno said.

For a car accident victim, this can begin by sitting in a parked car for 15 minutes, until their anxiety response has reduced to a tolerable level, after which they can turn on the car and drive slowly around the block. It’s not about avoiding fear entirely, but about confronting it in a controlled manner. “Put yourself in a situation where you’re anxious, but it’s not overwhelming,” Acierno said.

How to help children with their fears

For children after an accident and struggling with the aftermath, parents need to remember that “one of the symptoms of PTSD is a perceived loss of control,” Acierno said. When a child struggles with PTSD after a car accident, “You have to be really respectful of the fact that the kid isn’t able to turn the steering wheel or step on the brakes,” Acierno said. “You have to make the situation as calm and safe as possible.”

It can be helpful for children if this exposure to cars is linked to something they enjoy, such as a short drive to get ice cream together. (This is also a strategy that can work for adults too.)

How therapy can help

If you’ve recently been in a car accident and find that your fears are getting in the way of a fulfilling life, It is important to get help sooner rather than later. In general, treatment for PTSD can be completed over the course of four to five years Months by attending weekly meetings. When there are aggravating factors such as past trauma or lack of support at home, therapy may last longer, but not forever.

In my case, PTSD took years to recover because I didn’t have the support or resources I needed. Recovery became a constant swinging pendulum as I oscillated between an overwhelming fear of cars and an intense desire to get my life back to normal. In the beginning, all I could handle was riding in the car, and My walks around the neighborhood required a lot of extra time and care when it came to crossing the street or an intersection.

However, as I continued to go outside and try to find a way to do what I wanted to do without being overwhelmed by anxiety, things started to get better. The fear became more manageable, and Gradually I found myself able to do more and more until driving became it the normal, everyday hassle it had always been before.

Read  How to watch Don’t Worry Darling

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *