Coping After a Traumatic Accident

A soldier returning home from war in Iraq. A teenager who was sexually assaulted by a classmate. A driver who was involved in a serious car crash. These people and their situations might not seem like they have much in common. However, their stories all share one important, dangerous link: as a result of their experiences, they could all be suffering from trauma.

Defining Trauma

Trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.  Some common causes include war, natural disasters, physical, sexual, or psychological abuse, and exposure to homicide or other violent crimes. Many events that cause personal injuries, ranging from workplace accidents to car accidents, can also lead to trauma.

After a traumatic experience, many people experience post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Characteristics of PTSD include:

  • Flashbacks to the traumatic event
  • Nightmares
  • Feelings of detachment or hopelessness
  • Depression
  • Irritability or anger
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Hypervigilance, or being aware of any possible dangers or triggers
  • Hypersensitivity, including an increased heart rate, exaggerated startle reflex, and an increase in blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches

The Effects of Trauma

Along with PTSD, depression and anxiety are also common results of trauma. For example, a car accident survivor could experience depression as they wonder why they deserved to live when others didn’t, or feel extreme anxiety about driving again. When someone is suffering from PTSD or another mental disorder after a traumatic experience, it not only hinders their personal and social lives, but can also lead to lost wages and financial strain if their disorder causes them to miss work.

More importantly, however, people who have survived trauma experience an increased risk of suicide or self-harm. The risk is even higher if the person already has a history of suicide attempts of ideation, or if they have another mental condition. Every year, 44,193 Americans die via suicide. Additionally, there are 25 attempted suicides for every successful one. This is clearly an important issue, but one that is not talked about often enough.

Get Help Today

After a traumatic accident, dealing with physical injuries is critical. But don’t overlook mental health. If you are experiencing PTSD, anxietry, or depression as a result of a car accident or other event, talk to a doctor or mental health professional. If you are in a crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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