Traumatic events happen every day, from being in a serious car accident to being assaulted. After a terrifying incident, it is natural to be upset and afraid; however, it isn’t normal to feel these emotions months later. When a traumatic event continually impacts a person’s mood, feelings, thoughts, and ability to function on a daily basis, a person may be suffering from a mental or emotional illness.
Mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can adversely affect every aspect of a person’s life. While mental illness can be brought about by environmental factors, people involved in traumatic events are more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder than any other disorder.
PTSD occurs when people live through a frightening or dangerous event that can involve serious injuries or death. In a car accident or other motor vehicle crash, for example, the driver, passenger, pedestrian, or even observer can be affected psychologically—especially if someone witnessed another person die. Although it is a natural response to feel distraught and fearful after a scary or shocking incident, PTSD sufferers don’t recover from these emotions.
PTSD is a mental illness that can cause people to feel scared or stressed even when they are not in danger. When people think they are in danger when they are not, they may feel on edge and angry or have difficulty sleeping, eating, and concentrating. Unfortunately, these symptoms make it difficult for PTSD sufferers to work, have a personal life, enjoy interests they once did, or function in society. Even doing day-to-day tasks may be out of the question.
Sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder also have a tendency to relive the crash over and over again in their thoughts. Not only do they have to deal with flashbacks of the incident, but they often have nightmares—making it difficult for them to get the proper sleep to function. Both flashbacks and nightmares can lead to anxiety, fear, panic, and overwhelming thoughts and emotions. As a result, PTSD sufferers try to avoid situations and places that cause them to think about the incident. For example, a person may never want to drive down a certain road again.
Symptoms of PTSD
Some common symptoms of PTSD include:
- Negative thoughts
- Emotional numbness
- Worry and fear
- Panic attacks
- Sleep issues and nightmares
- Mood swings
- Concentration issues
When symptoms last longer than a month after a traumatic event, a person may be suffering from PTSD, which can either be acute (short-term) or chronic (ongoing) PTSD. While many people can recover within months, others experience PTSD symptoms for a long time. This is why it is critical that people affected by this mental illness seek professional help immediately to aid in their recoveries.
When to Seek Help
Because people affected by traumatic events might not know they have been impacted psychologically, they need to ask themselves certain questions to determine if they are suffering mentally. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- Do my new thoughts and emotions worry me?
- Are my thoughts preventing me from doing my normal activities?
- Are my thoughts preventing me from working and concentrating?
- Have my thoughts about the accident and / or flashbacks lasted longer than three months?
- Are my friends and family worried about me?
If you answered “yes” to some of these questions and you feel like every part of your life has suffered after a traumatic incident, you may be suffering from PTSD or another mental disorder. If this is the case, it is time to get help.
When someone suffers from PTSD or another mental illness, treatments are available. For example, a person with PTSD will often find help through psychotherapy. Psychotherapy allows a person suffering from PTSD to talk with a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. Some people need one-on-one sessions and others attend group sessions that can focus on different types of PTSD-related problems. While some therapies target work issues, others focus on social problems or family concerns. And yet other therapy treatments can help deal with the symptoms of PTSD.
The goal of therapy is to help people living with PTSD learn how to identify and deal with their symptoms and cope with their thoughts and feelings. Therapists can do this through different types of therapy and techniques. No matter what type of therapy a person goes through, a therapist should give a PTSD sufferer tips for how to control anger and relax, as well tips for managing other symptoms. In addition to learning positive coping strategies, PTSD sufferers may also be prescribed medications, such as antidepressants.
Recovering After a Mental Illness
Not only is it essential to get diagnosed and treated for PTSD for someone’s own mental health, but this diagnosis is important to a personal injury claim. Any time a person’s life is affected psychologically, it is critical that the injury claim takes the mental injury into account as well as the physical injury.
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, it is important that you seek the help of a mental health professional as well as a legal professional. An attorney experienced in serious personal injuries will know how to take your physical, mental, emotional, and financial losses into account when negotiating with the insurance company.
At Shevlin Smith, our lawyers know it is essential that victims with mental illnesses get compensated for the psychological harm they suffered in a crash or other traumatic event. Contact us online or call us at (703) 591-0067 for a complimentary consultation about your injury claim in order to learn about your rights.