A car accident can lead to PTSD

When you think of the causes of PTSD, what do you think of? For many, they think about soldiers having flashbacks to something that happened in a combat zone. Or they think of police officers not being able to shake the feeling of unease after a partner passes away on the job. They think of people in dangerous professions who put their lives on the line.

These are common causes of PTSD, but do not assume you can’t get it if you have a “safe” job. You definitely can. Anyone can. After all, one of the leading causes of PTSD is getting into a car accident.

Part of the reason that a car accident is so traumatic is that it’s usually incredibly sudden. Say it happens during your daily commute. You’re on a road you take every day. Five seconds before the crash, your biggest concern was what to make for dinner when you got home. You had no idea that you were in imminent danger.

Then someone drifts into your lane, hits your car and puts you in the hospital. It’s profoundly jarring, mentally, and it makes you feel like you do not have any control over your own life. You couldn’t avoid the crash. You may even feel lucky that you lived. You could have died just as easily — and all while simply driving home from work.

The change

If you do end up with PTSD, you should know that it impacts different people in different ways. While we can look at some of the ways it may change you, it is hard to predict.

For some, they feel nervous, guilty and uneasy all the time. Guilt, in particular, is common if someone else died in the accident. Why were you lucky enough to survive but they were not?

For others, it becomes a general fear of driving or riding in a car. They refuse to do it. The risks were basically abstract statistics to them before the crash. Now they know what it looks like and they won’t put themselves in that position again.

For still others, PTSD leads to flashbacks and obsessive behavior. You can’t stop thinking about the crash. You dream about it. You play through it repeatedly in your mind. It makes you become depressed and withdrawn, but you cannot think about anything else.

Your rights

If this happens to you, it is important that you understand that PTSD is a medical condition. It can come from a car accident. As such, you may have a right to financial compensation, just as you would with physical injuries and other such medical conditions. Make sure you know what steps to take.