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How do you know if you have PTSD after a car accident?

Post-traumatic stress disorder isn't just something that impacts firefighters, police officers and soldiers. They have high-risk jobs where people can die in the line of duty, and the things they see mean their risk level is notably higher than it is for most people. However, anyone can get PTSD by living through a traumatic experience.

For most of us, nothing compares to a car accident. Maybe it's a pedestrian accident, where you step off the curb and hear the screech of the brakes. Maybe it's a bicycle accident, and you never even see the car that hits you from behind. Maybe it's a case where another driver cuts you off at an intersection and your vehicle slams into the side of theirs.

No matter how it happens, the accident leaves you shaken and scarred, mentally speaking, on top of your physical injuries. So, what symptoms should you watch out for to help you identify PTSD?

Invasive memories

You just cannot let it go. You cannot stop thinking about it. Every time a similar situation presents itself, you have a flashback. At night, the accident plays over and over in your nightmares. For months or even years after the crash, you keep experiencing it.

Mood swings and depression

You always felt generally happy before, but now you swing down into depression and anxiety quite often. You feel irritable. You have trouble getting along with people you used to love. Your mood swings happen so quickly that other people are nervous to go near you and they sometimes say that they do not feel like they know you anymore.

Avoidance behavior

To cope, you start avoiding situations that are too similar to the incident. You used to bike all the time, but now you refuse to ride. You used to enjoy vacationing in Las Vegas, but now you refuse to go back. For some people who get in auto accidents, the change is so drastic that simply riding in a car makes them feel like having a panic attack.

Trouble sleeping

Many people with PTSD report having trouble sleeping at night. This leaves them stressed and fatigued, and it can have a drastic impact on an already problematic mental state. In some cases, the trouble relates directly to their nightmares about the accident itself. When they wake up after one of these vivid dreams, they are so distraught that they cannot get back to sleep, even if it is still hours before morning.

Do you have PTSD?

These are just a few potential symptoms, but have they already shown you that you may have PTSD after a car accident? You may need professional treatment to deal with this disorder, and you must know all of your legal rights.

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