The quirky 1993 romantic comedy, Benny and Joon, narrates pivotal events in the lives of a man and his adult sister. Although both find love with tolerant and compassionate people, they do so only after surmounting significant obstacles: Joon learns to be receptive of a human being who isn’t her brother, and Ben manages to make time for someone else, in spite of the challenges in caring for Joon, who suffers from severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following the death of their parents in an automobile accident and cannot independently take care of herself.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “anyone can get PTSD at any age…[and] not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people get PTSD after a friend or family member experiences danger or is harmed.” A change in behavior is natural trailing in the wake of some disaster. When the survivor (or witness) of abuse, combat, or some other traumatic experience falls into a rut, they cannot be expected to just “snap out of it”—they require time to recover. However, when this time extends into months and years, it may be time to seek help in returning to daily life.
PTSD cannot be self-diagnosed, as a combination/interaction of symptoms is what determines a correct identification of the disorder. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take a professional to detect warning signs—and this must be done if help is to be sought in a timely manner.
While people who do not have PTSD have been known to experience flashbacks in isolated instances, recurrences that persist for longer than a month are cause for concern. It can be difficult or nearly impossible to move on from the devastation of a traumatic experience if the event is being constantly relived and rehashed in the mind of the accident survivor. Those who suffer thusly should seek professional help in putting their memories behind them.
2. Repression of memories
On the other end of the spectrum are those who live in a state of denial. They push the incident into the remotest recesses of their mind to avoid the pain that comes with healing. However, this repression, when indulged for too long, makes the accident a permanent fixture in the life of the individual in denial by preventing them from really moving on. As daunting as the prospect, feelings must be dealt with, not defied.
Even in the absence of flashbacks, unpleasant memories enduring in the subconscious can continue to terrorize the sufferer of PTSD in their sleep. This may occur as a result of partially successful repression or of a memory that is totally pervasive, even after it has passed. In any case, relentless nightmares are not a natural consequence of an accident and may indicate some deeper issue.
These nightmares can, in turn, lead to sleeping problems that further interfere with the sufferer’s ability to perform day-to-day functions and recuperate emotionally from the distressful incident. If a person’s sleep patterns change drastically following a troubling incident without returning to normal, it could indicate that they are suffering from PTSD.
Sometimes the ordeal of stomaching an excess of negative emotion can leave a person utterly drained and unable to contain anything beyond what they are currently quartering in their psyche. This, too, is a normal phase in the grieving process; but as with any phase, it cannot last forever. A person’s emotional capacity should not be permanently impaired under natural circumstances.
6. Persistent jitters
Alternately, the sufferer of PTSD may be perpetually antsy for no apparent reason. This reaction makes some sense in light of the theory that PTSD is simply the fight-of-flight response drawn out beyond its normal span. A certain amount of jumpiness following an accident is understandable, but should not outlive its usefulness.
7. Avoidant behaviors
Perhaps the most marked indicator of PTSD is withdrawal from regular activities. The healing process should prepare the sufferer to reenter life, not cause them to retreat from it. If an accident victim or witness demonstrates a protracted reluctance to participate in activities they once enjoyed, there is a good chance that something is seriously amiss.
Unfortunately, PTSD is not always taken into account as a side effect of an accident. However, its repercussions are as dramatic as any physical injury, if not more so; and it requires treatment as urgently. While the sufferer of PTSD may run into obstacles seeking compensation for the emotional complications of an accident, a personal injury attorney with experience working with insurance companies and others involved in the process can be an invaluable ally.
If you or someone you care for is suffering from PTSD after a traumatic incident for which another party is at fault, you are entitled to sufficient remuneration to obtain treatment. To consult with a personal injury attorney in Utah to explore your options, call Christensen & Hymas toll-free at (801) 506-0800.
Image Courtesy of US Department of Veterans