PTSD Symptoms

Am I having PTSD after an accident?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a traumatic event. In the case of a personal injury accident, 23% – 30% of the time victims and witnesses can experience PTSD symptoms. Many times symptoms don’t resolve quickly on their own.

Symptoms may vary with each individual.

Common PTSD Symptoms Can Include:

Anxiety about driving


Just the thought of driving a vehicle again can be overwhelming for someone with post accident PTSD.



Can be triggered by a sensory feeling, an emotional memory, a reminder of the event, or even an unrelated stressful experience.

Man hiding

Avoiding Activities


Can be a response to trauma and is a sign of depression or anxiety.

Feeling emotionally numb

Emotionally Numb

Can be an unconscious protective response to feeling difficult emotions due to anxiety, stress, or trauma.

Scary dream

Upsetting Dreams

Can stem from fear or stress and be a response to recent life changes, traumatic events, insomnia or disrupted sleep.

Hopeless boy


Is frequently associated with a desire to isolate, and with negative feelings such as helplessness and powerlessness.

Memory problems

Memory Problems

PTSD related memory loss can make it difficult to remember lists or facts, can make memory seem fragmented or disorganized, or can lead to large gaps in memory altogether.

Trouble concentrating

Trouble Concentrating

PTSD affects a number of brain areas specifically the amygdala and the pre-frontal cortex. Sufferers report they have a hard time paying attention or concentrating while completing daily tasks. This is often the result of being very anxious.

relationship problems

Difficulty Maintaining Close Relationships

The symptoms of PTSD can cause problems with trust, closeness, communication, and problem solving. These problems may affect the way the survivor acts with others. In turn, the way a loved one responds to him or her affects the trauma survivor. A circular pattern can develop that may sometimes harm relationships.

Angry person


PTSD causes a higher level of tension and arousal can become a person’s normal state. The emotional and physical feelings of anger are more intense. The person may often feel on edge, keyed up, or irritable and may be easily provoked.

Overwhelming guilt.

Guilt or Shame

A sense of guilt is a common feature of PTSD, for a diverse range of reasons. Especially ‘survivors’ guilt’. Other variations include regrets about decisions you made, feeling responsible for the actions of others or guilt that your mental health affects loved ones.

Avoiding people

Avoid Thinking or Talking About A Traumatic Event

An attempt to avoid distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings as well as external reminders such as conversations about the traumatic event or people or places that bring the event to mind.

Trouble sleeping

Trouble Sleeping

PTSD disrupts sleep by increasing the duration of light sleep; decreasing the duration of deep, restorative sleep; and interfering with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the stage of sleep linked to dreaming and nightmares. This often results in insomnia—difficulty falling and staying asleep—and daytime fatigue.

Frightened person

Startled or Frightened

Emotional stress increases cortisol and adrenaline. Studies have shown that someone with PTSD will continue producing these hormones when they’re no longer in danger, which is thought to explain some symptoms such as extreme alertness and being easily startled.

Avoid PTSD Negative Coping Skills

When people are unaware that they have PTSD following a traumatic accident, they may develop negative coping skills to help them handle the symptoms. Common negative responses include:

  • Substance abuse or taking a lot of drugs or alcohol to feel better
  • Avoiding others
  • Staying always on guard
  • Avoiding reminders of the trauma
  • Anger and violent behavior
  • Dangerous Behavior
  • Working too much

Which programs work for PTSD?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), is a type of psychotherapy originally researched and developed by the Veterans’ Administration to help soldiers suffering from depression and those affected by war. CBT has consistently been found to be an effective treatment for PTSD. It focuses on identifying, understanding, and changing thinking and behavior patterns. CBT is an active treatment which helps the PTSD sufferer learn skills to be applied to their symptoms. The skills learned during therapy sessions help support symptom improvement.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), is a type of CBT and is based on the VA protocol, but it is specifically trauma-focused. A CPT therapist is highly trauma-informed. As a result, all of Trauma Counseling Associates CPT therapists are more attuned to understanding trauma-based triggers and reactions. Skills learned during therapy sessions help support symptom improvement for over 95% of our clients with this type of therapy. Counseling can usually be competed within 5-10 sessions, depending on the severity of the case.

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