How to Deal With Serious PTSD After a Car Accident

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a common aftereffect of being involved in a car accident. PTSD is a psychological condition that can cause debilitating symptoms in serious cases. If you are suffering from severe PTSD after a car accident in New Jersey, there are steps you can take to cope with and manage your symptoms.

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that can develop after an individual witnesses or lives through a traumatic event. While previously reserved for soldiers on active duty and referred to as “shellshock,” a deeper understanding of how traumatic events can affect the psyche has expanded the application of the term PTSD to many different people and traumatic events, including motor vehicle accidents.

Common Symptoms Associated With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder can have a variety of different symptoms depending on the individual and the severity of the trauma. The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can arise shortly after a car accident, but they may also appear hours or days later.

Common symptoms include:

  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Flashbacks
  • Chronic anxiety
  • Negative changes in thought
  • Avoidance of triggers, such as driving
  • Irritability or mood swings

For some individuals, the symptoms of PTSD can be disabling. In these cases, PTSD can cause significant distress or impairment that affects daily functioning, interferes with personal relationships and makes it difficult to work.

Tips for Coping With PTSD After a Car Accident

Learning healthy coping strategies can improve your quality of life while living with PTSD after a car accident. It can also reduce your risk of developing co-occurring conditions, such as depression, anxiety disorders or a substance abuse disorder.

Treatment options and coping tips for car-accident-related PTSD include:

  • Therapy: different types of psychotherapy can help you process the traumatic event and manage your symptoms through healthy coping strategies. Examples include cognitive behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, supportive therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy.
  • Relaxation techniques: learning relaxation and mindfulness techniques can help you identify your triggers and learn how to cope with them if they arise. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga and other relaxing activities can help you stabilize and reset your nervous system to help you regain a sense of safety.
  • Medication: in some cases of serious PTSD after a car accident, a doctor may prescribe medications to alleviate symptoms. Prescriptions may include antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. If you experience worsening symptoms despite your prescriptions, such as thoughts of self-harm or suicide, seek help immediately.

It is possible to successfully treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Most treatments focus on helping patients manage PTSD rather than curing it completely. However, most people with PTSD from car accidents recover within six months to one year.

Ask for Help

Remember, it is okay to ask for help and support while dealing with PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder after a car accident is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. It is a common effect of being involved in a traumatic and overwhelming experience, such as a catastrophic car accident.

Help is available from friends, family members, therapists, psychologists, support groups, doctors and trained trauma counselors. With time, patience and the right resources, you can regain your sense of well-being and learn how to cope with PTSD after a car accident.