What Are the Signs of PTSD from Car Accidents?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2019
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Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental condition that afflicts people who have experienced a traumatic event, such as a car accident. People who have experienced a traumatic event may be more at risk of suffering from PTSD from car accidents. People showing signs of PTSD will often avoid situations that bring back memories of the experience, relive the experience, and be overly nervous. People suffering from PTSD from car accidents, for example, will often avoid reminders of the accident and have upsetting memories of the accident. They may also be overly nervous or jumpy, especially in situations involving motor vehicles.

More commonly known as PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that may occur after a person is involved in a traumatic event. This condition can also develop after a person is involved in or even witnesses a traumatic event. PTSD in men can occur after they have been involved in active combat, for example, and sexual assault is one of the more common causes of PTSD in women. It is also not uncommon for people to develop PTSD from car accidents.

Anyone can develop PTSD from a car accident. Some studies suggest, however, that people who have already experienced a traumatic event may be more at risk of developing PTSD from car accidents. A person who had already been in an accident, for example, may be more at risk of developing this condition after a second accident.


Avoidance is one of the most common signs of PTSD. This means that a person who suffers from PTSD will often avoid reminders of the traumatic experiences he endured. These reminders are often referred to as triggers. A person with PTSD from a car accident may avoid certain things that may remind him of the accident. He may avoid the site of the accident, for example, or he may even avoid driving a vehicle, especially if he was driving when the accident occurred.

Someone with PTSD from car accidents may also relive the accident subconsciously. He may have disturbing memories of the accident, especially if he is exposed to a trigger. Nightmares and trouble sleeping are also common among PTSD sufferers. In severe cases, accident sufferers may also have flashbacks of the accident.

People with PTSD will also usually feel more anxious or nervous than other people, especially when it comes to things that remind them of the accident. When a person develops PTSD from a car accident, for instance, he will often feel very nervous when riding in a vehicle. He may even have panic attacks.


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Post 1

I was in two serious accidents in about six months. I was not hurt (or driving) either time, but the vehicles were totaled.

I was really twitchy for years after the accidents, and I still find myself hanging on to a bar or closing my eyes if I'm a passenger and something looks like it might happen. I'm very particular about who I'll ride with now, when it never bothered me before. Those wrecks were nearly 30 years ago and I'm still funny about being the one to drive, since both wrecks were driver error. I don't like to pass the driving on to others. I used to say, "I know what I'll do. I don't know what those other idiots will do." But from others I've spoken with who have been in wrecks, this is a pretty common state of mind.

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