Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a complex medical condition that affects some people following exposure to an upsetting ordeal such as suffering or witnessing a serious injury. The good news is that supposed symptoms of PTSD – especially in relation to car accidents – are often incorrectly self-diagnosed, with a thorough medical/psychological assessment proving that the patient is in fact not suffering from a case of PTSD. This is because an accurate PTSD diagnosis does not rely on meeting the criteria associated with one single symptom, but rather the patient must display a range of relevant symptoms. We’ll get into some of the symptoms in a moment, but briefly, one of the most common reasons for a PTSD misdiagnosis is the failure to meet a particular avoidance/numbness symptom in everyday life, that must be coupled with a persistence that leads to a debilitating or disabling set of circumstances. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the symptoms of PTSD.
If you believe that you may be suffering from symptoms of PTSD following a car accident, one of the primary reasons for your self-diagnosed condition is likely hyperarousal. For example, throughout the day or particularly while trying to sleep, you could experience persistent irritable thoughts such as replaying the moment of your injury or wondering if you could have done more to avoid your injury (if you were holding a conversation during your crash, you may be wondering things like could the call have waited, and is hands-free while driving illegal?)
Attempts to ignore emotions and thoughts for at least one month
A common symptom of PTSD is an attempt at apathy in response to racing thoughts. This means that the person is making every effort not to process the negative emotions that they have attached to the event in which they were injured. Conversely (and perhaps confusingly), any psychological state in which the affected person is rendered apathetic and unable to process negative emotions may also be seen as a significant symptom of PTSD. This means that either through self-determination not to think about the event or through a mental block that prevents thinking about the event, the person is not able to move on. In either case, these symptoms of PTSD must persist for more than one month before they will be considered legitimate in a medical assessment.
Confirmatory bias is common in misdiagnosed cases of PTSD – because we know that PTSD is possible following an injury, we may inflate our own symptoms to meet the diagnosis criteria. However, in-depth thoughts about traumatic events and even temporary sleeplessness do not necessarily point towards PTSD. Don’t guess. Always check in with medical staff.