5 Symptoms of PTSD After Car Accident: How to Recover

carlsoninjuryCar Accident

Yes, vehicles have become much safer than in the 60s and 70s. But accidents continue to hurt people and their families. In 2022, Utah witnessed 58,991 crashes, resulting in 17,606 injuries and 296 fatalities.

As a leading car accident attorney in Utah, we firmly believe a car accident can be a life-altering experience. It often leaves physical as well as emotional scars on the victims. While physical injuries are visible and receive immediate attention, the psychological impact of a car crash, especially post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), frequently gets overlooked.

However, PTSD can affect anyone who has experienced a traumatic event, including car accidents. If you or your loved one has been in a car crash, do look out for the symptoms of PTSD after a car accident. Remember, knowing that you have PTSD is a battle half won.

So, let’s explore the common symptoms of PTSD after a car accident and discuss strategies for recovery.

What Are the Symptoms of PTSD After a Car Accident?

As mentioned, the first step in recovering from PTSD after a car accident is identifying the potential symptoms. These symptoms can often leave you feeling like the world is unsafe. The feeling of constant danger around you will disrupt your life significantly.

Let’s find out what these symptoms are:

  1. Flashbacks and Nightmares: Re-experiencing your car crash is one of the most common signs of PTSD. You may experience flashbacks and nightmares, especially after going to bed. You might vividly relive the accident, causing intense distress. As you can imagine, this can lead to sleep deprivation, which, in turn, can lead to several other health issues.  
  2. Avoidance: People with PTSD after a car accident often avoid situations or places that remind them of the accident. It can severely disrupt your daily life. For example, you may never want to drive again. But how can you go to work, drop your kids to school or get groceries if you can’t drive? This can lead to social isolation and withdrawal from activities once enjoyed.
  3. Hyperarousal: You may get easily startled, experience irritability, have difficulty sleeping, and struggle with concentration. These symptoms can significantly impact your ability to function in daily life. In short, your PTSD can affect your personal and professional lives. 
  4. Negative Thinking: As a car accident attorney in Utah, we have seen many victims with this underlying symptom. PTSD can lead to increased negative thoughts and feelings. You may develop persistent negative beliefs about yourself or others, distorted blame, and loss of interest in activities. It’s a slippery slope that can quickly lead to severe depression
  5. Emotional Numbness: In some car accident cases, individuals with PTSD may feel emotionally numb. You may find it challenging to experience joy, love, or happiness. This emotional numbness can strain relationships and hinder your healing process. In the worst case scenario, it can lead to a breakup or divorce. 

How Do You Recover from PTSD After a Car Accident?

It is perfectly normal to feel scared when you are in a car crash. It is also equally common to experience symptoms of PTSD after a car accident. However, don’t let the PTSD take control of your life. You can recover from it with professional help, mindfulness, and self-determination. As a car accident attorney in Utah, we always encourage clients to focus on their recovery instead of worrying about the legal process.

Here are a few steps to help you recover from PTSD after a car accident. 

  1. Seek Professional Support and Help: Of course, the first is to seek help from mental health professionals. You can talk to your friends and family about the accident. However, it is far better to reach out to a certified and experienced therapist trained in treating patients suffering from trauma. Professional therapists often use trauma-focused therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), to help you heal.
  2. Talk About Your Experience: Encouraging yourself or your loved one to talk about their experiences. It can be therapeutic. Supportive friends and family members can provide a safe space for expressing emotions and processing your trauma. Be sure to talk freely about how you feel and the anxieties you face. 
  3. Practice Relaxation Techniques: Being mindful and calm can help you recover from PTSD after a car accident. You can learn relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga. These can help manage your anxiety and hyperarousal. These techniques also promote a sense of calm and improve overall well-being.
  4. Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Maintain a balanced diet, get adequate sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs. These steps are essential for your overall well-being. Make healthy lifestyle choices that support physical and mental health, aiding your recovery process.
  5. Support Groups: Joining support groups where individuals can connect with others who have experienced similar traumas. Support groups often provide a sense of belonging and understanding. Besides, sharing your experiences and coping strategies with peers can be incredibly empowering.
  6. Physical Activity: Physical exercise is equally important. Regular physical activity can help you recover from PTSD after a car accident. Exercise releases endorphins, which can improve your mood and alleviate stress. It also helps you regain a sense of control over your body.
  7. Gradual Exposure: Gradual exposure can help you heal efficiently. You can gradually get exposed to triggers in a controlled environment. It can help you desensitize to the trauma. However, do this only under the guidance of a therapist to ensure a safe and supportive experience.
  8. Patience and Self-Compassion: Finally, be patient and practice self-compassion and self-care. Recovering from PTSD after a car accident isn’t going to happen overnight. It takes patience, commitment, and self-compassion to ensure complete recovery. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge your progress, no matter how small it may seem.


Recovering from PTSD after a car accident is a significant challenge. However, you can overcome its debilitating effects with professional support and coping strategies. But first, you need to recognize the symptoms of PTSD, which may include stress, avoidance, anxiety, negative thinking, and emotional numbness. 

After that, you can take proactive steps toward recovery, such as seeking professional help, sharing your experience, practicing relaxation techniques, and engaging in a healthy lifestyle. You can rebuild your life piece by piece with a supportive environment and self-compassion.

While we can’t help you recover from PTSD after a car accident, we will help you file a car accident claim. As leading Utah car accident lawyers, we have helped accident victims like you recover the compensation they deserve. Contact us to schedule a consultation today!