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Whiplash and Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder after a car accident

Along with the signs of physical distress in the body following a car crash, car accident victims can also suffer from a range of emotional after-effects including depression, social phobia, anxiety disorders and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD (a mental disorder connected to trauma) combined with the cognitive effects of whiplash injury affecting the cervical vertebrae in the neck can have complex consequences.

This is because the nerves in the neck region of the spine are connected with thought processes and mobility functionality (as the brain communicates with the limbs to move and run, for example). This means that if a whiplash injury affects the neck and a car accident victim has PTSD, they will end up experiencing a psychological double whammy.

What is post traumatic stress disorder?
PTSD is a traumatic emotional condition that occurs after exposure to a terrifying event or a series of horrifying events. The latter can include physical violence, rape, natural disasters, kidnappings, fire, abuse (of any kind), terminal illnesses and car accidents.

PTSD can occur at any age as a sudden, short-term response to a very difficult situation that has been experienced or as a long-term disturbing memory that struggles to evacuate the body and mind.

The latter results in memory fragments being processed over a period of time in the form of flashbacks and nightmares, causing insomnia and sleep-deprivation problems resulting in poor concentration, attention deficit disorder and memory retention problems.

Car accidents and flashbacks
Somebody suffering from PTSD may feel frequently frightened and traumatised as they experience or re-live the trauma during flashbacks. Flashbacks can be 'triggered' by a number of stimuli including images, sounds, smells or connected feelings that have a strong correlation with the traumatic event.

A person experiencing a car accident flashback may lose all sense of reality and think they are still in the past trauma and having the accident again. Understandably, this may be traumatic for a loved one to watch.

PTSD and emotional side-effects
Survivor guilt (of having survived when other people have died in a car accident) is also often a significant aspect of PTSD. Somebody with PTSD may have an advanced startle reflex, be emotionally numb, unable to connect with other people and irritable or aggressive.

These emotions, together with disjointed thought processes from the spinal whiplash injury, can 'block' an individual and make them appear emotionally disconnected. Slurred speech and communication problems can also occur.

A car accident victim suffering from whiplash or compounded spinal injuries affecting the cervical vertebrae (connected to the brain and thought processes) may, therefore, find that their recovery from the accident is more difficult than they first think. This may particularly show up in cognitive activities such as memory recall and the ability to function normally in the workplace.

PTSD and physical symptoms
Poor brain-body co-ordination is also an expression of PTSD and trauma release. During whiplash recovery, the spine and brain try to heal and communicate effectively with the relevant parts of the body that require mobility.

Tripping, slipping, falling over and spilling or knocking things over are also common symptoms. Chiropractic treatment is extremely effective at treating the spine, reducing subluxation and bringing the nerves back to their former state so that the body can work properly.

Therapies that assist in releasing locked trauma
The best thing a car accident victim with whiplash and PTSD can do to help themselves is let their employer know that they have been through a traumatic time. It is also best to seek help through therapies such as psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy which can assist in releasing locked trauma:

By unlocking trauma using the therapies above, the brain and body have time to recover and the mind is freed up to concentrate on being present and carrying out tasks properly and logically.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following a car accident or any other harrowing incident is nothing to be ashamed of and seeking professional help is always the best thing to do. There is a huge amount of help and advice available and, no matter how bad the disorder may feel, it is possible to get over it and lead a normal life once again.

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