Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder many injury victims experience following a car accident, semi truck accident, or many other dangerous situations. During a traumatic experience, the human body begins to make quick immediate adjustments in order to prepare for the oncoming event. This flight or fight response is vital to our survival as a species. Generally this response is forgotten or discarded as soon as the event is over.  However, in patients who are suffering from PTSD, the traumatic event produces symptoms which continue to plague the victim following the experience.

There are multiple combinations of symptoms PTSD sufferers may exhibit. The National Institute of Mental Health has provided the following three grouping categories, with accompanying symptoms:

Avoidance Symptoms

  • Feeling guilty, depressed and worried
  • Trouble remembering the traumatic event
  • Intentional avoidance of places and people associated with the event
  • Emotionally numb

Re-Experiencing Symptoms

  • Bad dreams
  • Flashbacks
  • Frightening thoughts

Hyperarousal Symptoms

  • Feeling on edge and tense
  • Being frightened easily
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sudden outbursts

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (MIMH), the 3 categories listed above are not to be considered inclusive of all symptoms. The NIMH further has stated:

“It’s natural to have some of these symptoms after a dangerous event. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, they might be PTSD. Some people with PTSD don’t show any symptoms for weeks or months.”

The atypical Missouri car accident is one such event that increases the risk of PTSD symptoms. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), a person’s response to the traumatic event must involve helplessness, intense fear, or horror.  A car accident often has all three of these stressors:

  1. Feeling of helplessness. Often, car accident victims see the accident coming and are unable to move out of harms way.
  2. Intense Fear/Horror: Any number of elements of an auto accident may cause intense fear, such as seeing a car about to crash into you, being trapped in a crushed vehicle, or lying on the concrete with a broken leg.

It is important to remember that an individual may experience PTSD even if they are not actually involved in an accident. The DSM-IV further states that symptoms of PTSD may result from the threat of death or serious injury, or from witnessing a horrific scene unfold.

Most of the therapy for post traumatic stress disorder is focused on desensitizing the patient from the past event. Therapy for PTSD is largely psychotherapy and/or medication. Psychotherapy, or personal counseling, consists of a trained medical doctor building a personal relationship with the patient in order to help the patient move beyond the stressors. Medications employed may consist of anti-anxiety medications, depression medications, analgesics, and anti-headache medications. Each patient and their unique situation will require a different course and duration of treatment. It is important you seek immediate medical attention if you are exhibiting any of the symptoms of PTSD.

In the context of a personal injury lawsuit, Missouri law requires a negligent party to reimburse the injured party for all of their harms and losses caused by the accident. PTSD is one of these harms. PTSD may require years of treatment depending on the severity of the horrific event and its effect on an individual. Medical bills may cause financial ruin to an unknowing accident victim.  Following a traumatic event, you should immediately contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your right of reimbursement for medical bills, time, and inconvenience invested to treat your psychological injury. Post traumatic stress lawyer Chris Dixon is available to provide education on an accident victims’ rights of recovery for PTSD. Call 314.409.7060, or toll free at 855.402.7274.

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