It is not uncommon for people to experience severe levels of stress and trauma reactions after a car accident, as a skilled Milwaukee personal injury lawyer can rely on. Some people who were injured in a serious auto collision meet the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This condition can also apply to those who were not involved in the car crash, but witnessed it happen and saw people endure agonizing injuries or death. Most people feel some level of stress or anxiety after an auto accident but others can go on to develop PTSD.

Who Is Susceptible to Developing PTSD after an Auto Accident?

The reason why one person develops PTSD and not another is not currently known. In addition to fear associated with driving, a person can experience PTSD symptoms including the following:

Behavioral Symptoms:

  • Emotional outbursts
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Survivor’s guilt
  • Depression
  • Self-blame
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Homicidal thoughts
  • Shame

Physical Symptoms:

  • Chronic pain
  • Insomnia
  • Sleeping excessively
  • Weight gain
  • Losing weight

Cognitive Symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Feeling slowed down
  • Memory challenges
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble paying attention
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Confusion

When Should I Seek Help for My PTSD Symptoms?

Someone who has witnessed or endured a traumatic car accident should consider first seeing their physician for a physical exam, then look into a therapist if mental symptoms are not getting any better. The fear of driving can worsen into a phobia and can result in that person avoiding driving at all costs. Fears associated with driving can grow into other areas, including fear of public transportation or being a passenger. Avoiding these kinds of scenarios can intensify the phobia.

It is not a bad idea to get help right away, even for minor symptoms. This can help prevent symptoms from progressing and worsening overtime, which can be harder to work through.

What Is the Treatment for PTSD in Car Collisions?

Your therapist will create a specific plan for treating your PTSD based on your own individual needs. But overall, a therapist’s approach is to offer compassionate caring, in which he or she will not judge, minimize, or invalidate your feelings. A therapist is to offer hope, support, and guide you in the direction of healing.

Your therapist can perform a psychiatric evaluation to determine how severe your PTSD symptoms are in your everyday life, in addition to identifying the presence of any other co-occurring disorders.

What Else Should I Know?

During therapy, you will likely develop skills to help alleviate PTSD symptoms, leading to a fuller and more enjoyable life. Healing and treatment takes time, so remember to be patient with yourself as you go through this journey. Seeking help is one of the best things you may ever do for yourself. In combination with therapy, practicing journaling, art therapy, exercising outdoors, meditation, mindfulness, and creative expression can help in your path to healing.

For many people, pet therapy can be very beneficial. Animals have a way of giving us unconditional love and can help during extreme PTSD symptoms such as panic attacks or anxiety. Your therapist can help you decide if a pet therapy animal can be helpful in your recovery.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Hickey & Turim, SC for their insight into auto accident cases.