When we consider the consequences of a North Carolina motorcycle crash or a truck collision on I-40, our thoughts go to the range of physical injuries. Fractured bones, brain damage, and permanent disfigurement are conditions we can observe directly.
But there is a second set of consequences from North Carolina traffic accidents that we seldom consider: the psychological impacts. An automobile wreck near Wilmington can damage minds as well as bodies—and these injuries can be much harder to assess and to treat. Those who have heard of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) know it as a mental disorder that can afflict soldiers in war zones. Not many people realize it also can affect victims of motor vehicle accidents.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that is fairly common after a person has undergone an intense traumatic experience that involved the threat of physical injury or death. People with PTSD process stressful events in ways different from how other people handle stress. Mental health professionals find that most of these effects cluster into three sets of symptoms for the disorder:
- Reliving the event. Memories of the traumatic event will arise spontaneously in ways that disturb everyday life. The patient may have “flashbacks” where the event seems to be recurring. He may have nightmares of the event, or have intense negative reactions to stimuli that remind him of the trauma. For instance, the sound of a car horn might arouse memories of a car accident and trigger a panic reaction.
- Withdrawal or avoidance. In order to avoid stimuli that trigger memories of the trauma, the patient may withdraw from everyday life. He may feel emotionless, detached, or numb, and may lack interest in activities he used to find appealing. He may avoid people and places that arouse memories of the traumatic event. This aspect of PTSD can resemble depression, making it common for PTSD patients also to be diagnosed with a mood disorder.
- Arousal. The patient is hypersensitive to certain stimuli. He may be irritable and display anger at minor events. He might find it difficult to sleep or to concentrate on tasks. He may be easily startled and may have an extreme reaction when startled.
Is there a cure?
Every case is unique. Our understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder has deepened considerably in recent decades, and there are therapeutic options to manage PTSD and other anxiety disorders.
If you have found it challenging to cope with daily life after a North Carolina motor vehicle accident, you may benefit from speaking with a mental health professional. Your psychological needs are just as important as your physical recovery. Your regular physician can recommend a counselor for your care.
Unfortunately, mental health treatment can be expensive—but we may be able to help with that. If your North Carolina traffic accident was caused by the negligence of another person, you have rights to seek compensation for physical and psychological injuries caused by that incident.
The Wilmington traffic injury attorneys at Speaks Law Firm are ready to hear about your case at a free consultation. Contact us today at 910-341-7570 or toll-free at 877-593-4233 to set up your appointment, and we will send you a FREE copy of our helpful report, The North Carolina Auto Injury Book.