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mental disorder Archives - Suzanne Wallach

The Risk of PTSD After A Car Accident


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) under the new category called Trauma- and Stressor- Related Disorders. Psychology Today explains that PTSD is a “mental health condition that develops in response to experiencing or witnessing a distressing event involving the threat of death or extreme bodily harm.” According to the National Center for PTSD, a program of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, of every 100 people nearly seven or eight will experience PTSD in their lifetime.

Risk Factors

Although anyone can develop PTSD at any age, research shows that some people are at greater risk than others for PTSD. Several factors have been found to increase the risk of developing PTSD, some of which include the following, provided by Verywell Mind:

  • Dissociation during or immediately after the traumatic event
  • Family history of psychopathology
  • High levels of emotion (e.g., fear, helplessness, horror, guilt, or shame) during or immediately after the traumatic event
  • History of prior trauma
  • Lacking social support after the traumatic event
  • Perceived life threat to self or others
  • Prior psychological adjustment problems

The leading cause of PTSD in the general population is motor vehicle accidents. Each year, millions of people are involved in car accidents. In 2020, approximately 2.3 million people were injured in motor vehicle accidents on U.S. roads. According to a National Institute of Mental Health study, 39.2% of car accident survivors develop PTSD.

Signs and Symptoms

Each person with PTSD has the propensity to experience varying levels of severity of symptoms. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) divided the symptoms of PTSD into the following four categories:

  1. Intrusion symptoms: The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in the following way(s):
    1. Involuntary, upsetting memories
    2. Distressing dreams
    3. Flashbacks
    4. Emotional distress after exposure to traumatic reminders
    5. Physical reactivity after exposure to traumatic reminders
  2. Avoidance: Avoidance of trauma-related stimuli after the trauma, in the following way(s):
    1. Avoiding people, places, activities, objects, and situations that may trigger distressing memories
    2. Resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it
  3. Alterations in cognition and mood: Negative thoughts or feelings that began or worsened after the trauma, in the following way(s):
    1. Inability to remember important aspects of the traumatic event
    2. Overly negative thoughts and assumptions about oneself or the world
    3. Exaggerated blame of self or others for causing the trauma
    4. Negative affect
    5. Decreased interest in activities
    6. Ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame
    7. Feeling detached or estranged from others
    8. Experiencing a void of happiness or satisfaction
  4. Alterations in arousal and reactivity: Trauma-related arousal and reactivity that began or worsened after the trauma, in the following way(s):
    1. Difficulty sleeping
    2. Hypervigilance
    3. Irritability or aggression
    4. Difficulty concentrating
    5. Risky or destructive behavior
    6. Heightened startle reaction

As is outlined in the PTSD diagnostic criteria provided in the DSM-5, for a person to be diagnosed with PTSD, his or her symptoms must last for more than one month, must create distress or functional impairment, and must not be due to medication, substance use, or other illness.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

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