After a car accident, it’s common for occupants of the vehicle to be in shock. It is a traumatizing experience for anyone, no matter what age. However, children can be most affected, even if they are not physically injured.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is sometimes present in children after a car crash. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, children are especially prone to PTSD following events like car accidents.


Child accident injury claims are especially emotional and can be complex. If your child has experienced a car crash and displays symptoms of PTSD, you as their parent or guardian may want to pursue and recovery compensation for their pain and suffering. Personal injury claims and verdicts can recover money for victims’ medical, psychological, or psychiatric treatment. While medical treatment is typically obvious, sometimes psychological or psychiatric wounds are harder to discern, but can be no less damaging. Damages for car accident victims’ pain and suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish sustained from the accident can be recovered in personal injury claims and cases.  


Symptoms of PTSD in Children


PTSD is a type of mental health condition which occurs when someone is exposed to a traumatic event, like an act of physical violence or a car accident. Symptoms of PTSD in children can vary largely, depending upon the age and maturity level of the child.

In the car accident context, children can become severely traumatized. PTSD in very young children can show in the following symptoms:

  • Hypervigilance
  • Separation Anxiety or Clinginess
  • Emotional distress when reminded of initial trauma
  • Fear or avoidance of places that remind them of event
  • Trouble sleeping, fear of darkness
  • Bedwetting
  • Nightmares
  • Repetitive play

Older children may exhibit anger outburst, changes in school or social life, nightmares, headaches, and trouble sleeping.


Finally, pre-teen or teenage children may exhibit poor school performance, depression, anxiety, or difficulty sleeping. Some teenagers may even develop a fear of driving once they reach driving age.


If your child is exhibiting symptoms of PTSD following a serious car crash, it is best to provide them with the necessary pediatric treatment and psychological care right away. This can help to prevent PTSD from developing into a more serious problem.


Luckily, there are effective treatments for PTSD, especially for children. Like many injuries, PTSD is best treated early. Since PTSD is a normal response to abnormal stimuli (such as car accidents) it is helpful to know the signs and be on the lookout for them. If detected, several therapeutic approaches have been found to be quite effective. One approach is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Bellingham has many therapists skilled in this type of therapy, and many therapists are in-network on a variety of insurance plans. CBT entails allowing the child to talk freely about the car wreck, and teaches the child coping skills to use when memories and emotions associated with the crash resurface.


Another potential treatment for PTSD in children is play therapy. Play therapy is sometimes used to treat PTSD symptoms in very young children. This type of therapy utilizes games or drawings to help young children cope with all of the negative memories associated with a car crash.


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