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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Symptoms and Treatment

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Symptoms and Treatment

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post traumatic stress disorder

PTSD after motor vehicle crash

Pauline was sitting behind the wheel of her car at a red light when she heard the sound of brakes. She looked into the rearview mirror and saw a huge tractor trailer headed right into the back of her car. After her car was struck, she was pushed into an intersection, where her car was hit on the driver’s side. The side of her car buckled in, pushing her into the passenger seat. The rescue squad cut Pauline’s car apart to remove her. Pauline suffered a concussion, fractured ribs, fractured femur, and herniated lumbar discs.

As Pauline recovered from her injuries, she realized she had changed. She had these symptoms for more than a month:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Easily startled
  • Did not want to ride in a car and got nervous at red lights
  • Withdrawal from her friends
  • Felt hopeless
  • Had flashbacks
  • Had nightmares that she heard screeching brakes
  • Easily got angry
  • Felt chronically anxious and under stress

Pauline suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD). (If her symptoms lasted only 3-4 weeks, she would be diagnosed with acute stress disorder.)

Personal injury attorneys, psychologists and counselors, ministers and others in the healthcare profession see people experiencing PTSD after motor vehicle crash. Symptoms can be disabling and last for years. PTSD is a troubling and often a long lasting aspect of the damages a plaintiff suffers a major trauma.

PTSD Treatment options

There are no quick and easy cures for PTSD. Medications and counseling may help. The most commonly prescribed medications are in the serotonin reuptake inhibitors category (SSRIs), including paroxetine, citalopram, sertraline, and fluoxetine. These medications help to decrease feelings of anxiety, pain, fear, and depression. But they come with a price. Side effects include dizziness, sedation, drowsiness, and headaches. I’ve reviewed medical records of patients on these medications who have complained of feeling dopey or drugged.

Pauline began counseling. She had a chance to talk about the trauma, to help her gain insight and explore her negative thoughts and learn how to cope with the upsetting memories and thoughts. Some counselors use group therapy to help patients interact with others with the same feelings. Some patients need anger management therapy to learn how to deal with the rage and anger that is common to people with PTSD. Pauline learned how to identify what triggered her anger. She kept a log of the things that made her angry and learned how to control her temper. Deep breathing, meditation, and music helped her stay calm.

After a year of antidepressant therapy and 10 months of counseling, Pauline was gradually regaining control of her life. Her symptoms became less troublesome. She began to re-establish her friendships and felt more hopeful about her life.

Contact Med League for medical summaries that give you an overview of what the plaintiff experienced a trauma /PTSD after motor vehicle crash.

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