Doctors classify post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as an anxiety state. PTSD arises from a natural reaction to stressful situations. This disorder provokes such intense reactions that it can impact your daily life. These reactions can even put you in physical danger.

Mental health professionals can help you overcome PTSD—counseling and medication have proven to be effective in reducing its symptoms.

Here is a guide to PTSD and the ways that you can seek compensation for PTSD symptoms after a car accident.

What is PTSD?

Fear, anxiety, and worry play an important role in human survival. These emotions arise in scary or dangerous situations so your body can react to save itself.

When the brain experiences these emotions, it triggers one of three reactions:

  • Fight
  • Flight
  • Freeze

Most people go through life experiencing these stress reactions in moderate ways. You might see a horror movie and jump when something scary happens.

But for some people, a traumatic event causes the brain to measure stressful situations differently and react to them more strongly. Any traumatic event can cause PTSD, including a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, or other life-threatening accidents.

Symptoms and Signs of PTSD

PTSD occurs when your brain triggers the fight, flight, or freeze reaction in everyday situations. In other words, your brain begins to see benign or mildly stressful situations as life-threatening. In response, your body prepares to fight, flee, or freeze.

Many of the symptoms of PTSD are understandable. But they occur disproportionately or inappropriately to the situation.

Some of the common symptoms of PTSD include:

Reliving the Trauma

Your thoughts may dwell on the traumatic event. You may even relive the traumatic event in response to triggers like sights, sounds, smells, or tastes that remind you of the event.

These symptoms could cause:

  • Sleeplessness and nightmares
  • Hallucinations
  • Flashbacks
  • Severe reactions to triggers, like panic attacks or aggressiveness

These symptoms commonly occur after a car accident. If they continue, they may signify PTSD.

Avoiding Perceived Triggers

In an attempt to avoid symptoms of PTSD, you might try to avoid triggers. After a blind spot truck accident, for example, you might take extra care to avoid a truck driver’s blind spots.

But PTSD can cause reactions that are disproportionate to a danger. For example, after a truck accident, PTSD might cause you to stop driving altogether.

Some avoidance symptoms include:

  • Avoiding the scene of the accident
  • Refusing to discuss the accident
  • Isolating from people who might ask about the accident
  • Avoiding people involved in the accident
  • Avoiding the vehicle you drove during the accident
  • Avoiding vehicles like the one that hit you

Taking lessons from the accident to reduce the risk of another accident provides a healthy response. But PTSD could cause you to develop elaborate patterns of behavior to avoid thinking about the accident.

Heightened Reactions

PTSD could cause you to have intense reactions, like panic attacks, in response to triggers that remind you of the accident.

Some reactions that could signify PTSD include:

  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Jumpiness
  • Irritation or aggravation
  • Edginess

These symptoms could cause you to withdraw from your loved ones and isolate yourself from the outside world to try to avoid triggers. These symptoms can also cause physical problems like high blood pressure, increased heart rate and respiration, headache, diarrhea, and tense muscles.

Negative Mood

PTSD can cause you to feel negative emotions. You might become withdrawn due to a fatalistic or cynical view of the world.

Other symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Memory difficulties, particularly about the accident
  • Difficulty concentration
  • Withdrawing from people and activities
  • Guilt
  • Shame

These symptoms can manifest in anyone. But they sometimes manifest strongest in people involved in car accidents where a loved one died or sustained a serious injury.

Treatment for PTSD

PTSD is a physical response brought on by emotional and mental triggers. It will usually require treatment for the emotional and mental aspects, as well as the physical symptoms.

Some common treatments for PTSD include:

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy helps you to deal with trauma in less destructive ways. This form of talk therapy will help you to recognize the thought processes that cause intense reactions. By recognizing the thinking errors, you can correct your thinking before responding.

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy exposes you to the aspects of the trauma that trigger your PTSD. As you experience this exposure, you can retrain your brain to cope with the emotions, rather than going into a fight, flight, or freeze mode.

Medication

Antidepressant and antianxiety medication can help to moderate the symptoms of PTSD. But doctors usually use them in combination with therapy to try to get to the root causes of the disorder.

Recovering Compensation for PTSD

Emotional and mental stress may qualify as injuries under the law. As a result, you have just as much right to recover compensation for PTSD as you would for a broken bone.

The Compensation You Can Recover

For any injury, the law entitles you to:

  • Medical expenses, including treatment, therapy, and medication
  • Income lost during your illness and recovery
  • Diminished earning capacity if you need to change jobs or retire due to your injury
  • Pain and suffering

This last category can represent a significant amount of compensation for PTSD. Pain and suffering damages compensate you for all of the ways that your injury diminished your quality of life.

Lost sleep, mental anguish, depression, panic attacks, and anxiety can support damages for pain and suffering.

Supporting a Claim for Compensation

To recover compensation for PTSD, you must first seek medical attention. A doctor must diagnose you with PTSD, and you must receive treatment for the disorder. Without documentation in your medical records, a claims adjuster or jury will have no evidence with which to support your claim.

You should also keep all of your medical bills for your PTSD. These bills will help you to document the financial costs of your injury.

You may also need witnesses to verify the ways that your PTSD has altered your life. From forcing you to stop driving to keeping you awake at night, you can claim compensation for the diminishment in your quality of life.