If you’ve ever been involved in a serious accident of any kind, you know that it can be—and often is—traumatic. While insurance companies seem to be in the business of disproving the traumatic nature of serious accidents, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore post-traumatic stress symptoms or that you should simply try to white-knuckle your way through. Your health and well-being are too important to leave to an insurance company’s discretion—you need an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
According to the Mayo Clinic, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event—either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Furthermore, the Mayo Clinic reveals that, while most people—with time and adequate self-care—recover from the difficulties of experiencing trauma, such is not always the case. If symptoms continue to worsen, last for months or even longer, or interfere with day-to-day functioning, it could be PTSD.
PTSD: The Symptoms
PTSD is by no means a cookie-cutter disorder. Instead, it’s incredibly complex, and can be extremely nuanced in its effects. The Mayo Clinic finds that the onset of symptoms typically begins within a month of the precipitating event, but that PTSD can sometimes take years to appear. The effects of PTSD can include serious social, employment, and personal hardships.
The Mayo Clinic groups the symptoms of PTSD into four general categories, including intrusive memories, avoidance, changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.
Intrusive memories – Intrusive memories of the traumatic event inappropriately insert themselves into your thought processes. Symptoms of intrusive memories vary:
- Recurrent and unwanted distressing memories of the trigger event
- Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the trigger event
- Trigger-event flashbacks, which amount to reliving the event as if it were happening again
- Extreme physical or emotional reactions to events that remind survivors of the traumatic trigger event
Avoidance – This includes attempts to avoid talking about the PTSD trigger event and attempts to avoid those places, activities, and people that remind survivors of the trigger event.
Negative changes in thinking and mood – Various symptoms can indicate negative changes in your thinking and mood:
- Negative thoughts about yourself and about others
- Emotional numbness
- Hopelessness about the future
- Inability or difficulty tending to close relationships
- Memory lapses that can include the inability to remember significant elements about the trigger event
- Detachment from friends and family
- Inability to maintain interest in things you once enjoyed
- Difficulty connecting with positive feelings
Changes in physical and emotional reactions – Changes in physical and emotional reactions are also known as arousal symptoms, and they encompass distinct reactions:
- Always being on guard against danger
- Engaging in self-destructive behaviors, including drinking too much, ignoring daily self-care needs, or driving dangerously
- Sleeping fitfully
- Being quick to startle or frighten
- Concentrating poorly
- Experiencing overwhelming guilt or shame
- Exhibiting outbursts of irritable, angry, or aggressive behaviors
PTSD: The Causes
As with most mental health conditions, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of any specific case of PTSD. The Mayo Clinic, however, establishes that PTSD can be brought on by experiencing or witnessing an event that involves or threatens serious injuries or death—as experiencing a serious accident can. While medical science can’t explain why some people experience PTSD and others don’t, it’s likely to be caused by a complicated mixture of unique elements:
- The totality of stressful experiences that you’ve encountered throughout your life
- Your temperament or your inherited personality features
- Your family history of mental illness
- Your body’s ability to regulate stress responses, including reactions to stress chemicals and hormones
Furthermore, the Mayo Clinic lists accidents as one of the most common events that can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Surviving PTSD Caused by an Accident
If you have been involved in an accident and think you might be experiencing PTSD symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. If a traumatic event has caused you to suffer lingering, disturbing thoughts and feelings, or if you find that you’re having a difficult time getting your life back on track after a traumatic event, seek professional medical attention—prompt treatment can help keep your symptoms from becoming more pronounced. If you are tempted to harm yourself or think you may be moving in that direction, seek immediate emergency help. Never ignore the serious ravages of PTSD.
If You Were Injured in an Accident That Led to PTSD, Consult With a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney as Soon as Possible
Accidents often lead to myriad injuries, but post-traumatic stress disorder can be one of the most haunting consequences of serious accidents. Insurance companies, however, seem invested in decrying PTSD’s very existence as it relates to accidents. Nevertheless, accidents are traumatic by their nature, and the consequences are far too great to ignore or minimize the effects of PTSD.
If you or a loved one were involved in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence and that led to PTSD, you need experienced legal counsel. The Chicago personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Abels & Annes have the knowledge and dedication to help defend your claim, protect your rights, and obtain your rightful compensation. We’re here to help, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call our office at (312) 924-7575 for a free consultation today.