Most people associate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with soldiers and combat. The violence and terror they’ve seen and experienced, so the logic goes, has simply short-circuited the serviceman’s brain. To an extent, they are right. Many soldiers have come home with PTSD as a result of experiences in combat, and while certainly not a medical explanation, the brain is, to some extent, short-circuited. However, that explanation is a grossly simplified description of what is, as recent studies have found, an incredibly complex condition. PTSD is much more than a blown fuse in the brain. And it’s not just soldiers that experience it: PTSD can affect anyone who has suffered a traumatic experience, including survivors of motor vehicle accidents (MVA).
What is PTSD?
According to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, PTSD is “a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event – either experiencing it or witnessing it.” When an individual witnesses or experiences these events, the body responds with differing coping mechanisms to allow the individual to deal with the stress. Afterwards, the individual may experience symptoms or trauma from the event, including flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts. While this is normal, these symptoms usually disappear after a relatively short amount of time; if they persist, the coping mechanisms may morph into PTSD, and at times may have a negative and severe impact on an individual’s daily life.
While any event that the individual finds traumatic may cause PTSD, one of the most common causes is motor vehicle accidents. The United States National Institutes of Health report that people involved in MVAs are at a heightened risk of suffering from PTSD, and they stress the importance of treatment.
Symptoms of PTSD
A study by NIH shows that after an accident individuals often suffer several similar symptoms and reactions. Among them are avoiding triggers that remind them of the accident, refusing to drive, not speaking about it, emotional numbness (a detachment from others), and symptoms of extreme anxiety, including irritability and inability or refusal to sleep.
The NIH cites studies suggesting the numbers of people suffering PTSD after a car crash are larger than previously thought; the studies estimate that as many as 2.5 to 7 million people in the U.S. suffer PTSD because of accidents, and that after an accident, 25 to 33 percent of victims will suffer from PTSD.
Litigation’s Effect on PTSD
Studies also found that one of the largest contributors to the condition for crash survivors is litigation. The stress and intensity of having a court case after a wreck causes the individual to focus on the accident frequently, and subsequently the stress levels increase. Studies have shown that once litigation is concluded, the intensity of the condition more often than not declines, and treatment is more effective.
What all studies recommend is that if an individual is suffering after-effects from an accident, they should seek treatment as soon as possible. After screening for PTSD, treatment may begin. There are essentially two types of treatment after an MVA – the first is a therapy that works to prevent PTSD from taking hold after an accident, and the second is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, addressing individuals who are already suffering effects of PTSD.
While studies are far from conclusive concerning the effectiveness of all or parts of the treatment, all experts agree that it is important to seek help as soon as possible after an accident when an individual or their family members feel the accident has caused psychological harm.
With more than 50 years of legal experience between them, the partners of Guajardo and Marks of Dallas have the knowledge and resources to help with your legal needs. The firm has a reputation of unparalleled success and looks forward to assisting our fellow Texans. For answers to your questions or to set up an appointment, contact us online or call us at 972.774.9800.