More than 2 million Americans are injured in traffic accidents each year.

Some of them end up with symptoms such as these:

  • An ongoing, general feeling of uneasiness

  • Problems driving or riding in vehicles

  • Not wanting to have medical tests or procedures done

  • Overreactions or being too worried or angry

  • Nightmares or trouble sleeping

  • Feeling as though they are not connected to other events or other people

  • Ongoing memories of the accident that they can’t stop

If you have these symptoms following your car accident, and especially if the symptoms persist for more than 1 month, you may have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In fact, studies show that about 10% of those in serious car accidents develop post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD?

According to, “Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), once called shell shock or battle fatigue syndrome, is a serious condition that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event in which serious physical harm occurred or was threatened. PTSD is a lasting consequence of traumatic ordeals that cause intense fear, helplessness, or horror, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, an accident, war, or natural disaster.”

PTSD makes you feel stressed and afraid after the danger is over. It affects your life and the lives of people around you.

Symptoms Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

These are some common symptoms of PTSD:

  • Bad dreams

  • Flashbacks, or feeling like the scary event is happening again

  • Scary thoughts you can’t control

  • Staying away from places and things that remind you of what happened

  • Feeling worried, guilty, or sad

  • Feeling alone

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Feeling on edge

  • Angry outbursts

  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or others.

Children can also suffer from PTSD, although their symptoms are different than those of adults.

Facts About PTSD

  • PTSD can affect anyone at any age.

  • Millions of Americans get PTSD every year (not all from accidents, of course).

  • Women tend to get PTSD more often than men.

  • Some clinicians have identified a variation of PTSD among victims of motor vehicle accidents which they refer to as subsyndromal or partial PTSD. These people have high levels of hyperarousal and re-experiencing symptoms but few or no symptoms of avoidance or emotional numbing. They have a better prognosis for symptom remission at 6 months than those with PTSD.

  • Many symptoms of PTSD do not manifest until patients attempt to resume daily activities after their accident.

  • The symptoms of head injuries can be quite similar to post-traumatic reactions, and a doctor will have to distinguish them. Sometimes, head injuries actually mask the symptoms of PTSD.

  • You don’t have to be physically hurt to get PTSD. You can get it after you see other people, such as a friend or family member, get hurt.

  • Several studies have shown that a majority of people will likely experience at least one traumatic event in their lives; but most of them will NOT develop PTSD.

    The chance of developing PTSD goes up if the trauma was very severe.

  • Adults with PTSD can have other problems as well, including depression, drug and alcohol abuse, or other anxiety problems (for example, panic disorder, social anxiety).

  • Although most people with PTSD will develop symptoms within three months of the traumatic event, some people don’t notice any symptoms until years after the accident occurred. A major increase in stress, or exposure to a reminder of the trauma, can trigger symptoms to appear months or years later.

Treatment Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Once it is identified, PTSD can be treated with various medications, talk therapy (especially cognitive-behavioral therapy), or both.


If you suffer from any of the symptoms described in this article, especially if they last for more than 1 month following your accident or if they get worse, you should consult a physician for an evaluation.

PTSD is treatable. With proper help, you can feel better.