If you were involved in a crash with your child in the car, you’re understandably focused on their physical condition. However, even if they weren’t seriously injured, they could be emotionally affected by the crash.
In fact, some children develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as the result of a car crash. Any number of traumatic events can cause PTSD in a child, including a crash. Even if no one in your vehicle was injured, if your child saw injured people trapped in a vehicle or taken away in an ambulance, that can be enough to cause it.
As with adults, signs of PTSD don’t always present immediately. They can take months to become noticeable. Unfortunately, PTSD in a child can turn into a chronic issue that haunts them into adulthood. They may be more easily triggered by stressful and frightening events than other people who hadn’t experienced childhood trauma.
Possible signs of PTSD in a child
Without recognition of the issue and proper treatment, PTSD can lead to depression, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. That’s why it’s crucial to watch your child carefully after a crash (even if they witnessed a serious collision) for signs of distress. These can include:
- Trouble sleeping and/or nightmares
- Increased anxiety, depression, anger or other mood changes
- Constantly reliving the event
- Talk of death
- Hearing or seeing things
Remember that no two children react exactly the same to any traumatic event. If two children were with you at the time of the crash, one may seem to have forgotten it within a week, while the other may be experiencing some of these symptoms.
Seeking professional help is key
If symptoms last for over a month (or less, if they’re particularly concerning), it’s wise to seek mental health care for your child. Of course, children should always be checked out by a physician after a crash to make sure they don’t have a concussion or internal injuries that may not be obvious.
When victims of a crash (regardless of their age) need therapy after a crash to process what happened to them, they have as much right to have that covered as a treatment for their physical injuries. If you’re seeking compensation from an at-fault driver’s insurance provider (or the driver themselves), don’t take a settlement until you know what kind of treatment will be necessary.