The Risk Of Ptsd After A Car Accident
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder in the general population. Each year, there are an estimated six million MVAs in the United States, resulting in over 2.5 million injuries. According to a National Institute of Mental Health study, 39.2% of MVA survivors develop PTSD.
How Is Ptsd Diagnosed
The doctor will do a mental health assessment. This means they will ask about current symptoms, past history and family history. They may do a physical examination to check that there are no other reasons for the symptoms.
For PTSD to be diagnosed, the symptoms need to be severe enough to interfere with someones ability to function at work, socially or at home. A full diagnosis cannot be made until at least 6 months after the trauma.
Often a diagnosis can come as a relief for someone who has been suffering debilitating symptoms because it provides an explanation and a basis for beginning treatment.
Sexual Violence And Ptsd
This is the first one Of PTSD causes in our list. Sexual abuse and violence comes in many different forms. Types include sexual assault such as rape, child sexual abuse, sexual assault of boys and men, sexual violence from an intimate partner, incest and drug facilitated sexual assault or date rape. The key to all sexual assaults is that the sexual contact is not wanted and can be very damaging to the person being assaulted. Other sexual violence cases can include sexual harassment, stalking, prisoner rape and other violent acts committed against another.
Even though there are millions of sexual violence cases reported each year, the majority of sexual violence cases are not reported. The reasons people dont report sexual violence is because they feel humiliated, shameful, or guilty. Many victims feel as if they are the ones at fault for the attack. Others feel fear of retaliation from their attacker. Whatever the reason, it is important to help victims feel safe enough to report the danger they are in and get the help they need.
Also Check: Fear Of Puke
Intimate Partner Violence And Ptsd
Intimate partner violence takes place between two people who are involved in a close relationship. It has been reported that at least one in ten people in relationships experience this type of trauma. The numbers may be higher if more people understood their situation and felt safe enough to report the abuse.
If a person loves you, they will not call you names, humiliate you, put you down, embarrass you in front of others, or control who you talk to or who you hang around. This is not love. These are behaviors that are associated with domestic violence.
Victims with PTSD of domestic violence can be known to repeat the violence cycle of abuse in others. Because they dont know how to cope with being abused or how to get out of the situation, they create a violent cycle without meaning to do so. Even people who witness domestic violence can experience PTSD causes. For example, a child who witnesses a parent being abused can develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
If you feel youre suffering from one of these common PTSD causes, there is hope.
Getting help for post-traumatic stress disorder is not as hard as you think it may be. There are many resources available. You just have to take the first step of seeking help. Tell someone you are interested in getting help. If you are not sure you have PTSD or these PTSD causes list are not matched with you, seek out a professional who can help you figure out whether you do or do not have symptoms.
How Common Is Ptsd In Police Officers
Since the nature of their job is so stressful, there is an increased likelihood of a police officer being diagnosed with the symptoms related to PTSD. It is estimated that almost 20 percent of police officers suffer from PTSD.
There is a strong correlation between being a police officer and PTSD. There are a variety of reasons why police officers experience PSTD symptoms. Below are the 5 most common causes of PTSD for members of the law enforcement community.
Recommended Reading: Does Pristiq Help With Anxiety
Pharmacotherapy Treatment Options For Ptsd
Knowledge of the biological changes with PTSD has led to the development of new treatments that offer more comprehensive management of PTSD and enable patients to enjoy an improved quality of life . For example, various drug treatments have been developed to treat PTSD. There are five main goals for treating PTSD with medications, including a reduction of the core symptoms such as anxiety and flashbacks, an improvement in stress resilience, an improvement in the quality of life, and a reduction in disability and comorbidity . As Brunello et al. notes, it is important to maintain wellness and prevent relapse .
The immune system is reciprocally regulated by the neural and endocrine systems and can also be affected by PTSD . PTSD often co-occurs with various inflammatory diseases, likely due to HPA axis dysregulation affecting the immune system . Immunomodulation is therefore important to avoid this subsequent dysregulation of the immune system and this can be achieved with SSRIs such as Fluvoxamine.
Fluvoxamine has been shown to be effective in decreasing the hyperresponsiveness of the HPA axis, thereby increasing levels of interleukins and other essential immune factors . Interestingly, there is a sexual dimorphism in immune functioning, as men with PTSD were found to have an inhibited cell-mediated immunity, while women showed enhanced cell-mediated immunity . A better understanding of this is necessary and it is important to consider sexual dimorphism for immunomodulation.
Trauma Ptsd And Suicide
In a survey of 5,877 people across the United States, it was found that people who had experienced physical or sexual assault in their life also had a high likelihood of attempting to take their own life at some point:
- Nearly 22% of people who had been raped had also attempted suicide at some point in their life. In another study of adolescent girls who had been sexually abused, 46% reported having suicidal thoughts within the last three months.
- Approximately 23% of people who had experienced a physical assault had also attempted suicide at some point in their life.
- These rates of suicide attempts increased considerably among people who had experienced multiple incidents of sexual or physical assault . They also found that a history of sexual molestation, physical abuse as a child, and neglect as a child were associated with high rates of suicide attempts
- The National Comorbidity Survey-Replication found that sexual trauma and non-sexual physical violence were linked to more severe and chronic presentation of PTSD symptoms.
- People with a diagnosis of PTSD are also at greater risk to attempt suicide. Among people who have had a diagnosis of PTSD at some point in their lifetime, approximately 27% have also attempted suicide. Another large-scale survey found that 24% of military personnel diagnosed with PTSD had experienced suicidal thinking within the past year.
Recommended Reading: What Are The Three Stages Of Schizophrenia
Are Some People More At Risk Of Ptsd
Some factors may make you more vulnerable to developing PTSD, or may make the problems you experience more severe, including:
- experiencing repeated trauma
- getting physically hurt or feeling pain
- having little or no support from friends, family or professionals
- dealing with extra stress at the same time, such as bereavement, money worries, racism, seeking asylum, homelessness or spending time in prison
- previously experiencing anxiety or depression.
If you experienced trauma at an early age or you have experienced long-lasting or multiple traumas, you might be given a diagnosis of complex PTSD. See our page on complex PTSD for more information.
“I was diagnosed by my GP with PTSD a few weeks after the death of my father who died very suddenly, following a family outing to the local pub for lunch. He collapsed in front of us and we had to administer CPR at the scene while waiting for the ambulance. He died later on the way to hospital.”
Anyone can experience traumatic events, but you may be particularly likely to have experienced trauma if you:
- work in a high-risk occupation, such as the emergency services or armed forces
- are a refugee or asylum seeker
- were taken into foster care.
How Does Ptsd Happen
During a trauma, your body responds to a threat by going into âflight or fightâ mode. It releases stress hormones, like adrenaline and norepinephrine, to give you a burst of energy. Your heart beats faster. Your brain also puts some of its normal tasks, such as filing short-term memories, on pause.
PTSD causes your brain to get stuck in danger mode. Even after youâre no longer in danger, it stays on high alert. Your body continues to send out stress signals, which lead to PTSD symptoms. Studies show that the part of the brain that handles fear and emotion is more active in people with PTSD.
Over time, PTSD changes your brain. The area that controls your memory becomes smaller. Thatâs one reason experts recommend that you seek treatment early.
Don’t Miss: Pristiq Overdose Symptoms
Selected Scientific Articles By Our Researchers
Towards precision medicine for stress disorders: diagnostic biomarkers and targeted drugs. Le-Niculescu H, Roseberry K, Levey DF, Rogers J, Kosary K, Prabha S, Jones T, Judd S, McCormick M, Wessel AR, Williams A, Phalen PL, Mamdani F, Sequeira A, Kurian SM, Niculescu AB. Molecules in the blood can help track stress intensity. Mol Psychiatry. 2020 May 25:918-938.
Home based delivery of variable length prolonged exposure therapy: a comparison of clinical efficacy between service modalities. Morland LA, Mackintosh MA, Glassman LH, Wells SY, Thorp SR, Rauch SAM, Cunningham PB, Tuerk PW, Grubbs KM, Golshan S, Sohn MJ, Acierno R. Providers can effectively deliver prolonged exposure therapy through telehealth and in-home, in-person modalities, although the rate of treatment completion was higher in in-home, in person care. Depress Anxiety. 2020 Apr 37:346-355.
Development of a tailored behavioral weight loss program for Veterans with PTSD : a mixed methods uncontrolled iterative pilot study. Hoerster KD, Tanksley L, Simpson T, Saelens BE, Unutzer J, Black M, Greene P, Sulayman N, Reiber G, Nelson K. Veterans with PTSD lose less weight in the VA weight management program . The MOVE!+UP program, tailored for Veterans with PTSD, provided acceptable results. Am J Health Promot. 2020 Mar 12. Online ahead of print.
Military Combat Or War
Men and women who serve in the military and experience combat may develop PTSD. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 15% of veterans who served during the Vietnam War are currently diagnosed with PTSD, but an estimated 30% of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime. About 12% of Gulf War Veterans have PTSD in a given year.These are only the reported casesmany people living with PTSD will do so in silence, and so many cases go unreported. In addition to veterans who experience PTSD, civilians who live through war can also experience PTSD. The effects of war go far beyond the battlefield, and that is evident in any people who have experienced war first-hand, be it a soldier or a civilian.
You May Like: How To Help People With Depression
Why Do Some People Develop Ptsd And Other Dont
As much as science and research has continued to grow in the area, its still not clear why some people develop PTSD, whilst others whove been in a similar situation dont develop the condition. We do however, know that anyone can develop PTSD, but some people are at greater risk.
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors for the development of PTSD following a trauma fall into three categories: pre-trauma, peri-trauma and post-trauma factors.
- Pre-trauma factors can include age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, IQ levels, prior mental health issues, personality type and neurobiological and genetic factors .
- Peri-trauma factors can include the duration/severity of trauma experience, fear of death, assaultive trauma, physical injury, and the perception that the trauma has ended.
- Post-trauma factors can include access to needed resources, high heart rate, financial stress, pain severity, peri-traumatic disassociation, disability, social support, specific cognitive patterns, and physical activity.
Ptsd Is A Common Mental Health Condition That Affects More Than Just Veterans Learn More About Facts And Statistics Related To This Condition As Well As Treatment Outcomes
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. As a Florida born-and-raised… read more
Denise-Marie Griswold is a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist. She earned her Master’s Degree in… read more
While most often associated with experiencing wartime trauma,post-traumatic stress disorder may occur following exposure to any traumatic event. PTSD can develop in response to natural disasters, accidents or violent experiences. PTSD facts indicate that a majority of adults experience at least one traumatic event during their life, but most do not go on to develop PTSD. According to PTSD statistics, a relatively small percentage of those who experience trauma develop PTSD. However, PTSD facts and statistics indicate that the disorder is more common than many people estimate.
Are you or a loved one dealing with a life-altering trauma and are struggling to cope? Contact Mental Health America at 1-800-273-TALK to find help today.
Also Check: Does Donald Duck Have Ptsd
Many People With Ptsd Suffer From Hypervigilance A State Of Increased Alertness
Most of us don’t like to be caught off guard, like unexpected loud noises or getting surprised in the hallway as a practical joke. But these situations can have a significant emotional impact on someone with PTSD.
“Hypervigilance activates a variety of physiological responses because the person perceives a threat, or potential danger, even when there is no realistic basis for it in the present moment,” Mechanic wrote. “The idea being, if you let your guard down, you will be re-traumatized or re-victimized. Therefore, by being hypervigilant, you can prevent future trauma/victimization.”
But Mechanic said, no matter how hard we try to prevent trauma, it’s out of our control most of the time. And, in addition to feeling in danger, people with PTSD can be triggered by emotional situations. This is because after one’s been traumatized, they’ve been exposed to a sense of vulnerability.
“That vulnerability isn’t necessarily about physical well-being and survival, but can also extend into emotional vulnerability and interpersonal vulnerability,” Gold said. For example, this means that someone with PTSD could also be triggered by something that makes them feel ridiculed, bullied, or even left out, leading them to overreact in specific situations.
The Connection Between Ptsd And Suicide
Information presented in this article may be triggering to some people. If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
In the United States, more than 40,000 people commit suicide each year. Although women attempt suicide more so than men, men are more likely to die by suicide.
People who have experienced a traumatic event and/or have post-traumatic stress disorder may be more likely to attempt suicide.
Don’t Miss: Which Olsen Twin Had An Eating Disorder
Ptsd In Children And Teenagers
Older children and teenagers experience similar problems to adults when they develop PTSD. Younger children can express distress in a different way. For example, they may re-live the traumatic event through repetitive play rather than having unwanted memories of the event during the day. Many children have frightening dreams without recognisable content rather than nightmares that replay the traumatic event. Children may also lose interest in play, become socially withdrawn, or have extreme temper tantrums.
About one third of children who experience a traumatic event will develop PTSD.
Other problems that can develop alongside PTSD include anxiety or depression, defiant behaviour, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and in teenagers and young adults, suicidal thoughts and alcohol or drug use.
Main Treatments For Ptsd
VA offers evidence-based treatments for PTSD that have helped many Veterans. Three forms of trauma-focused therapy that are used in treating PTSD are cognitive processing therapy , prolonged exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing .
According to the National Center for PTSD, 53 of 100 patients who receive one of these three therapies will no longer have PTSD. With medication alone, 42 of 100 will achieve remission. VA conducted a head-to-head comparison of prolonged exposure and CPT. The clinical trial, sponsored by VA’s Cooperative Studies Program , involves 916 Veterans at 18 VA medical centers nationwide. Currently, study results are pending.
Cognitive processing therapyIn the 1980s, Dr. Patricia Resick developed CPT, a 12-session cognitive behavioral treatment originally designed to help victims overcome symptoms of sexual trauma. It is a specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy , a form of psychological treatment that involves efforts to change thinking patterns. People undergoing CPT therapy are helped to understand and change how they think about their trauma and its aftermath. The goal is to understand how certain thoughts about the trauma cause stress and make symptoms worse.
You May Like: Can You Faint From Anxiety
What To Look Out For
It is normal to feel a flood of emotions, including shock, guilt, grief, helplessness, confusion, and fear, immediately following a car accident. However, with PTSD, these feelings don’t go away over time and can actually get worse.
According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , you may have PTSD if you experienced or witnessed a serious trauma, such as a car accident, and develop some of the following symptoms:
- Intrusive memories
- Negative changes in thinking and mood
Any or all of these symptoms may also occur as part of your body’s natural response to a traumatic life event. In people who don’t develop PTSD, these symptoms should naturally subside over time.
If you notice your symptoms are getting more severe and/or more frequent, if you’re avoiding more situations, or your symptoms are beginning to interfere with your life, then you may be at risk for developing PTSD.