One in 10 people develops post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). People may develop the condition after a major and sudden painful experience, such as a severe accident. Sustaining a life-changing or catastrophic injury can lead to a negative state of mind that might be associated with numerous types of mental or emotional disorders, including PTSD.
It’s important to seek professional help for an evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is displaying symptoms of PTSD. Left untreated, the condition can worsen and have very damaging long-term repercussions.
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Signs & Symptoms of PTSD
One of the symptoms that many people with PTSD have is recurring memories. They begin reliving the incident, even though it’s in the past and no longer presents a danger. They might have flashbacks or nightmares about the incident that can affect their ability to function in their daily lives.
They also might experience distress when presented with objects or situations that remind them of the accident. For example, in some cases, a severe car accident victim might begin panicking when he or she tries to get behind the wheel, or a dog bite attack victim might suffer from psychological and physiological stress when he or she hears a dog bark.
Other symptoms of PTSD include the following.
- avoiding or refusing to talk about the accident.
- feeling numb.
- depression, hopelessness and decreased interest in normal activities.
- social aversion or inappropriateness.
- heightened sensitivity to emotional stimuli (anger outbursts, jumpiness, etc.).
- panic attacks.
- feeling emotionally overwhelmed.
- problems sleeping.
- becoming noticeably distressed when reminded of the accident or injury (break out in a sweat, etc.).
- self-destructive behavior.
- and, difficulty concentrating.
Conditions that May Accompany PTSD
Many people with PTSD stemming from a serious injury develop secondary conditions related to their accident. For instance, victims might develop a dependence upon drugs or alcohol. Some develop depression, chronic pain, immune system problems and gastrointestinal conditions.
Unfortunately, some misdiagnose and treat PTSD as another, isolated condition. The CMHA explains that the aforementioned PTSD-related conditions “are often treated as self-contained illnesses; the link with PTSD will be revealed only if a patient volunteers information about a traumatic event or if a doctor investigates a possible link with psychological trauma.”
Long-Term Effects of PTSD
PTSD can have detrimental long-term effects, particularly if not treated. Those who suffer from the condition may be unable to work, their family lives and relationships could be put under terrible strain, and they may even have suicidal thoughts or actions.
“Some documented cases [of the effects of untreated PTSD] include addiction to drugs or alcohol; chronic pain, hypertension or physical maladies; self-injury; overwhelming fear of death; compulsiveness; personality changes; and self-destructive incidents, to name a few,” the PTSD Association explains.
Because of the potential for devastating consequences and because PTSD is easily masked by related conditions, it’s important for accident victims to speak with a physician or mental health practitioner after an accident and make sure the doctor knows about the injury/accident that might cause the disorder.
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