The shock of experiencing a life threatening personal injury can have profound effects on the human psyche. It can cause phobias and even change the way we view danger.
When danger is perceived, the body is hardwired to trigger an assortment of chemical and hormonal reactions – we are suddenly in immediate fear and apprehension of danger. We are in an excited state of fight or flight. People with PTSD however may feel stressed or frightened even when the danger is no longer present.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the physical injuries that can result from a life-threatening experience can also prolong the emotional and psychological problems if not treated.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Explained
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety induced emotional disorder that occurs as a result of being exposed to a highly dangerous or life-threatening event. This is commonly seen in severe automobile and traffic accidents where the threat of death or great bodily injury is perceived to be both real and imminent.
PTSD is more commonly seen in times of war where there are intense and violent exchanges between combatants. We need only think of the victims of September 11, 2001, to fully appreciate the seriousness of post-traumatic disorders.
Not every danger however has to be life threatening to qualify as PTSD, it can also develop by the learning about the unexpected death of a loved one. In this regard, grief counseling should be considered.
Common Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The most common symptom is the persistent re-experiencing of the event through obsessive thoughts and flash back memories redundantly being played out again and again. It is common to see major sleep disorders develop as a result of PTSD.
Some PTSD patients report that they easily get agitated and excited when aroused by noises and sounds that resemble or is associated with the frightening event.
Others have developed serious avoidance issues by consciously keeping away from locations and events that are remembrances of the frightening experience. This loss of control and emotional autonomy is often followed with guilt and depression.
When seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, you will want to consider a healthcare specialist who specializes in the treatment of trauma and PTSD. Beyond the doctor’s credentials and experience in the field of trauma, it’s also important that you feel safe and comfortable with your doctor.
Behavioral therapy slowly reintroduces the patient to their own fears and gradually helps them take small steps to overcoming their emotional fears. Talk therapy can also be quite useful in this context.
Medications are often prescribed in conjunction talk therapy. Two antidepressants that have been approved for treating post-traumatic stress disorder by the FDA are Sertraline and Paroxeton. Both of these medications have been used to treat depression with significant success. Clinical studies are showing that antidepressants such as these are also useful in treating symptoms found in PTSD patients. There is a word of caution with respect to using antidepressants – most have some side effects. The most common include: insomnia, headache, nausea, and agitation.
Some doctors prescribe Benzodiazepines when it is believed the PTSD patient needs to be tranquilized to sufficiently relax or fall asleep.
Legal Considerations For Injury Victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Accident victims rely on their lawyer to determine whether it makes strategic sense to actively pursue a clients post-traumatic stress disorder as one of the elements of the accident victims damages. Some juries have been reluctant to award much for pain and suffering if it is based more on a claim for post-traumatic stress disorder rather then for hard physical injuries.