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Virginia Automobile Accidents: A Look at Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

November 20, 2012 by The Parrish Law Firm

Virginia motor vehicle accidents can do much more than cause physical injury; they may also result in psychological turmoil that cannot be bandaged like a scrape or reset like a broken bone. The mental anguish accompanying a car accident is often more painful than the physical injuries suffered.

The Virginia automobile accident attorney at Parrish Law Firm, PLLC is here to give you some information on a common psychological condition that may follow a severe car accident: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What is PTSD?

Simply put, post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychological condition caused by a traumatic outside event, such as a car accident, wherein the victim relives the event continuously in their mind, according to WebMD. In other words, they can’t stop remembering.

Research has shown that PTSD actually changes the biological functioning of the brain, manipulating in particular how the brain stores memories. Generally, the level of intensity of trauma on the victim correlates to the level of intensity of the PTSD symptoms.

Often, PTSD is accompanied by other mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorders, or social phobias.

What are the causes of PTSD?

The causes of PTSD often include life threatening trauma, or situations where the victim felt great horror, fear or helplessness. During such events, the body activates the “fight or flight” response, wherein adrenaline increases the person’s heart rate, blood pressure and glucose levels for the muscles’ use. After the dangerous situation has passed, the body begins to shut down the stress response by releasing cortisol, working to return heart rate and blood pressure to normal levels.

However, if one’s body is not able to create enough cortisol to shut down the stress response, the adrenaline may continue to cause stress even after the perceived danger has passed. Often, PTSD is connected to high levels of stimulating hormones during normal, non-stressful situations. When someone remembers the trauma, these stimulating hormones are activated and put stress on the body.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

The defining symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder include:

  • Flashbacks – The victim may continually play back in their mind the horror they have experienced. He or she cannot will the images away; they invade the victim’s thoughts during their sleep (nightmares) and/or while awake.
  • Emotional detachment – Less obvious than flashbacks, victims experiencing emotional detachment are drained emotionally and may have trouble living out their everyday lives. Victims may avoid places and people that are connected to the traumatic episode, including family members.
  • Jumpiness – While an unexpected noise may startle anyone, those suffering from PTSD may have a hyperactive startle reflex, causing them to overreact to the stimulus. This condition can cause concentration problems (which may affect work performance), and hypervigilance (constantly looking around for possible danger).

Seeking treatment for PTSD

Most people who suffer traumatic events, while they may experience some of these symptoms for a short period of time, fully recover and can return to their normal lives without treatment. However, if these symptoms last more than a month or begin to affect job performance, the victim should seek treatment from a licensed mental health professional.

Parrish Law Firm, PLLC

We understand the trauma that comes along with a serious car accident, and we believe you deserve rightful compensation for your suffering. Our motor-vehicle accident lawyer will fight for your rights in court while you focus on what is most important: recovery. Call us today at 703-906-4229 or email us for a free case consultation.

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