Avoidance behaviors. Hyper anxiety. Replaying the events in your mind over and over. If you experience one or more of these odd behaviors — or if you feel like you are not yourself after an accident — you may have mental trauma.
According to the North American Mental Health Professional Advice Council, nearly one in 10 people develop post-traumatic stress disorder following a car crash. If you had a mental health disorder before the incident, or if you dealt with one in the past, your chances of developing PTSD after an accident increase to 60%. Though you may be unwilling to acknowledge the presence of mental trauma, it is imperative that you look out for strange or odd behaviors, as they could indicate PTSD.
It is natural to not want to think about the car crash or the events leading up to or surrounding it. Unfortunately, the brain does not let you pick and choose what you do and do not think about. When you try to suppress memories of the accident, you may unwittingly interfere with your brain’s ability to process thoughts and emotions in a healthy manner. If this interference happens for too long, it could have unhealthy long-term consequences.
On the other end of the spectrum is thinking almost solely about the accident and nothing else. Known as “rumination,” the tendency to focus on negative events can quickly evolve from thinking to a mood disorder. In fact, psychologists believe that ruminating plays a role in the development of depression in people who experience trauma.
It is completely normal to feel heightened levels of anxiety both directly before and after the impact of a car crash. However, if you experience similar levels of anxiety when you hear braking, a car horn or simply when behind the wheel, you may have PTSD.
Hyper-nervousness occurs when you become easily frustrated or nervous in situations in which you previously felt comfortable. Your hands may start to sweat, your heart rate may increase, your breathing may quicken and you may experience chest pain. These feelings in everyday situations are not normal and should be cause for concern.
Disassociation occurs when the brain recognizes that the body cannot fight or flee a traumatic event. In an attempt to preserve your mental health, your brain will pause, or freeze, any thoughts or emotions you may have experienced otherwise. The result is a disassociated state which, if not dealt with, can have adverse and long-term consequences.
PTSD is a very real side-effect of vehicle collisions. Overcoming it may require ongoing help from a mental health professional. To explore your options for covering the likely high cost of care plus any lost wages for the time you have had to take off work since the accident, consult with an attorney today.