How To Deal With PTSD From Car Accident

By Brain Injury Law of Seattle

ptsd car accident symptoms


One of the most common experiences leading to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is motor vehicle accidents. Whether you were in a serious car accident resulting in serious physical injuries, or a minor fender bender, PTSD after a car accident can happen to anyone. The ability to cope with PTSD as a result of a car accident takes both time and patience. To cope with PTSD, you must first understand how to recognize the symptoms of PTSD. Once you know the signs, you are then able to implement some of the strategies that help overcome your PTSD.


Recognizing PTSD Car Accident Symptoms

The difficult part of treating PTSD is that there are so many different PTSD symptoms, making it difficult to treat it truly. However, many common symptoms of PTSD from car accidents may arise:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Recurring nightmares related to the crash
  • Isolation
  • Flashbacks
  • Physical Symptoms – there are a few related physical symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and muscle tension
  • Avoidance Behaviors – this could include a few things like reluctance to drive or even ride in a car, avoiding the location of the accident, or preventing any activities that could cause a trigger.
  • Increased or ongoing irritability 
  • Guilt if you believe you are responsible for the crash
  • Intrusive Memories – this could include involuntary memories and even reliving of the accident. It is also commonly known as traumatic memories as well.

Many people can experience a variety of these symptoms; it could be one or all of them. If you feel you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should consult a mental health professional who specializes in trauma.


car crash ptsd


Prioritize Self Care After Car Accident

A major step in PTSD treatment as a result of a motor vehicle accident is your self-care. It is important to implement some of these strategies to improve your self-care.

  • Dedicate Time To Yourself – a step in improving your self-care would be to dedicate at least 15 minutes daily. You could use this time any way you see fit; it could be reading, walking, or even practicing meditation.
  • Be Kind To Yourself – it always helps to practice self-compassion.
  • Be Realistic – a major proponent for improving self-care is to be realistic about what you can complete in a day. It is important to schedule your time effectively in a day and ensure you prioritize your self-care needs.
  • Eat Well – creating a balanced diet will help improve your physical and mental state.
  • Exercise – exercise is proven to help reduce stress and drastically improve your mood. Create an exercise routine that works well for you, and stick to that workout regimen.
  • Get Enough Sleep – sleep is imperative for improving physical and mental health.


Seek Professional Care  For PTSD After Car Accident

Professional care will help in your recovery from PTSD from a car accident. There are a few simple steps that will help you find professional care.

  1. Start by finding a mental health expert who specializes in trauma. Most healthcare physicians could refer you to a professional.
  2. After talking to a mental health expert, they could prescribe you anti-anxiety medications to help cope with your PTSD.
  3. Attending therapy could also help you develop coping strategies and work through your trauma from the car accident.
  4. While attending therapy, you could find support groups that help you connect with others who have gone through a similar trauma.
  5. If you are uncomfortable with in-person therapy, online therapy has made significant strides in today’s society.


Physical Activity

As stated previously, exercise is a major component of dealing with your trauma. Exercise could be an excellent option for overcoming the symptoms of PTSD from a car accident. It is important to remember if you are just beginning to exercise, begin with low-intensity activities. It will also help you find an activity that you enjoy; if you enjoy the activity, it is more likely that you will stay motivated. Remember to exercise regularly, aiming for at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. Another way to stay motivated and even improve your training is to work out with a friend.


car accident ptsd symptoms


How Long Does It Take To Recover From PTSD

The recovery time for people differs from person to person. It is important to remember that your path to recovery is different from someone in a similar situation. You have to give yourself time to recover, both physically and emotionally.


Identify Triggers

Triggers are certain events that can bring a person right back to a traumatic event. There are many different triggers that could arise for a person who is suffering from PTSD from a car accident. Here are a few steps in identifying your triggers:

  • Create a Trigger Table – a major step is to create a trigger table to keep track of your triggers. This table should include the date and time of the trigger, what the trigger was, emotions you felt, physical symptoms felt, and any existing physical conditions that were impacted by the trigger.
  • Be Specific – remember to be extremely specific when identifying your triggers. It helps to record as much detail as possible when filling out the table, including things like sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.
  • Consider Emotional Responses – include the emotional responses that you felt during and even after you experienced the trigger.
  • Identify Patterns – after you have been tracking your triggers for some time, you can identify any patterns that are common when going through a trigger.


Implement Relaxation Techniques

Coupled with the ability to identify your triggers, the ability to implement relaxation techniques will help you overcome your PTSD from a car crash. Some of the best techniques for relaxation are as follows:

  • Breathing Techniques – the ability to go through deep breathing techniques will greatly help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation – this involves tensing and then relaxing muscle groups within the body, which will help reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation.
  • Visualization – imagining a peaceful place is a classic for promoting relaxation. This technique drastically reduces stress and promotes relaxation.


PTSD Car Accident Settlement – Seek Compensation

After you have established ways to overcome your PTSD from a car accident, it may be time to seek Compensation. There are a few steps that you must follow to receive compensation:

  • Consult An Injury Attorney – a big step is to consult a lawyer who will help determine if you are eligible for Compensation.
  • File An Insurance Claim – those who have insurance are able to file a claim for compensation from a personal injury claim.
  • Workers’ Compensation – this really only applies to you if you were driving for work at the time of the accident. You will have to go through your employer to have an overview of workers’ Compensation.
  • Keep Records – remember to keep records of all medical bills, lost wages, and any other expenses that are related to the car accident.


Support System

Creating an efficient support system will help you overcome your PTSD. To create a good support system, identify people in your life who are supportive and trustworthy. Make sure the people in your support group understand your needs when you are seeking help. It may help to supplement your support system with support groups or even by attending events to meet new people. Establish shared interests with the new people that you meet to build connections.


Be Patient

It is imperative to remember that dealing with PTSD as a result of a car accident will take time. PTSD trauma impacts individuals differently, so each individual must remember to implement the relaxation techniques outlined in this article.



Overall, PTSD after a car crash can affect people differently, but there are many common symptoms of PTSD, also known as post-traumatic stress disorder, from a car crash. Many different tactics will help you cope with your PTSD symptoms, but it takes time and patience to help overcome your trauma. For more information visit Brain Injury Law of Seattle or contact us today!

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