A car accident is a traumatic event that can cause survivors to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), requiring treatment. If you’re searching for trauma psychiatry in San Antonio to treat your symptoms of PTSD, here’s what you need to know.
PTSD Caused by Car Accidents
Car accidents are a leading cause of PTSD in the general population, with more than one out of three car accident survivors developing PTSD and requiring treatment.
Risk Factors for PTSD
Car accident survivors are more likely to develop PTSD if they:
- Experience dissociation during or immediately after the accident
- Have a family history of psychopathology
- Experience extreme feelings of helplessness, fear, horror, guilt or shame during or immediately after the accident
- Have experienced trauma in the past
- Have insufficient social support
- Suffer from pre-existing psychological conditions
Symptoms of PTSD
Common signs of PTSD include:
- Intrusive memories
- Severe emotional distress or physical response to triggers that remind them of the car accident
- Recurrent, unwanted, and disturbing memories of the accident
- Avoiding thinking about or discussing the accident
- Avoiding traveling to the location of the car accident
- Negative changes in thoughts and mood
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Trouble with memory
- Difficulty maintaining close relationships
- Feeling separated from family and friends
- Disinterest in activities they previously enjoyed
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Changes in physical and emotional responses
- Self-destructive behavior
- Difficulty focusing
- Difficulty sleeping
- Angry outbursts, irritability, or aggressive behavior
- Overwhelming feelings of guilt or shame
How PTSD is Diagnosed
Trauma psychiatry in San Antonio will involve conducting a physical exam to check for potential medical issues that may be causing symptoms. The doctor will also perform a psychological evaluation by asking the patient to discuss their symptoms and the event(s) that trigger their symptoms.
Treatment for PTSD
Trained psychiatrists treat PTSD through a variety of methods, such as:
- Stress management to teach coping skills
- Cognitive therapy. This form of talk therapy teaches the patient to identify patterns of thinking that are reinforcing negative beliefs about themselves and causing them to fear the possibility of being in a car accident again.
- Exposure therapy. The therapist may use a virtual reality program to expose the patient to a simulated car accident so that they can form a healthy response to the accident and eliminate symptoms of PTSD. This type of therapy is effective in addressing flashbacks and nightmares.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). During EMDR, the therapist helps the patient access the memory or memories causing symptoms of PTSD to re-process the trauma.
- Medication. Patients may be prescribed the following medications:
- Antidepressants. Treats symptoms of depression and anxiety, and helps improve sleep and concentration.
- Anti-anxiety medication. Helps relieve severe anxiety and other related problems. Typically prescribed for short-term use.
- Prazosin. Effective in reducing or suppressing nightmares.