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Children and PTSD: What Happens after a Car Accident?

While a wealth of information is available concerning adults coping with the physical and mental damage of a personal injury accident, what about the children involved in these accidents? Have you ever wondered how young children are affected after an accident, or how witnessing a traumatic injury ultimately impacts a child? Young minds are fragile and coping with the vivid memories of an accident can be extremely difficult. Often, a number of signs and symptoms can develop in children after being exposed to trauma. This condition is better known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

While you may be more familiar with the concept of PTSD in war veterans, the condition is not limited to combat situations. In fact, car accidents are one of the leading causes of PTSD in America. During the last decade, more scientific data has been obtained concerning children and PTSD. Researchers found that children who have been exposed to traumatic events can, and often do, develop PTSD. In fact, research shows that after experiencing a potentially distressing event, like a car accident, at least 1 in 5 children will develop PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD in Children

Young children experience PTSD in a way that is different from adults. The disorder can be broken down into three main symptoms in children:

  • Intrusion: PTSD in children can cause intrusive memories, also known as flashbacks. After an automobile accident, for example, intrusive memories can occur due to specific triggers. These are events, like sights or smells, which remind children of the car accident. The flashbacks can also occur for no reason at all. No matter the trigger, intrusive memories can cause children dangerous psychological stress and physical symptoms, such as a racing heartbeat or cold sweats. Intrusion can also cause vivid nightmares for children, forcing them to basically relive the automobile accident over and over through their dreams.
  • Avoidance: This symptom is also called emotional numbness. It occurs when children go to great lengths to avoid dealing with unwanted memories of a traumatic event. Many children will try to block out the memories and convince themselves that the automobile accident never happened. They may avoid people, places or circumstances associated with the accident. In addition, they can develop social phobias, panic attacks and anxiety. For example, after witnessing an upsetting car accident, a child might develop a driving phobia later in life.
  • Arousal Behaviors: PTSD can create hyper-arousal symptoms in children. This includes problems falling or staying asleep, an irritable disposition, unexplained outbursts of anger, problems concentrating and an exaggerated startle response.

Additional PTSD Information

Along with the PTSD symptoms mentioned above, children may suffer from bouts of severe depression and other psychological problems. As the disorder does not show itself the same way in each child, it’s vital to seek professional help after a traumatic event, such as a car accident.

Recent statistics show between 10 to 45 percent of the three million people involved in car accidents every year end up developing some degree of PTSD. Treatment of the disorder, in both children and adults, can vary.  Some children are able to be successfully treated with medication. Others require talk therapy, while some will need to confront the behaviors or situations they have been fighting so hard to avoid. PTSD treatment for some children can take as little as twelve weeks, but usually takes much longer. It’s a disorder that lacks an easy solution and can have a life-long impact.

What About Your Child?

If your child has begins showing signs of PTSD after an automobile accident, you should talk to your primary physician immediately. Explain the symptoms your child is exhibiting and discuss treatment options. Remember, injuries that result from car accidents are not limited to physical trauma. They can take a severe toll on the emotional well-being of your child and often manifest months after the accident occurred.

If your child was involved in a San Francisco car accident and is suffering from PTSD, he or she doesn’t have to simply live with it. PTSD is a real injury. As such, you are entitled to seek real compensation when your child develops PTSD that results from a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence.

In order to obtain fair compensation for your child’s mental anguish and the massive costs associated with PTSD treatment after an automobile accident, you should consider hiring an experienced Bay Area personal injury attorney. At the San Francisco law offices of Nelson C. Barry, we are experienced in these types of cases. To learn more about PTSD and car accidents, or to schedule your free initial consultation, contact San Francisco personal injury attorney Nelson C. Barry at (415) 587-0550.

 

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