If your child was in the car with you when you were hit by another driver, your first concern was naturally for their physical health and well-being. However, even if they are physically uninjured or appear to be on the mend, it’s also important to watch your child for signs of mental stress.
There’s often no way of knowing how deeply a child will be affected by the trauma of a car crash. Experts have found that children who suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a crash are more likely to suffer emotionally. A childhood TBI can also lead to a greater chance of some type of mental health issue when they’re older.
If your child is diagnosed with a TBI following your crash, they could experience cognitive and sensory issues for a time. It’s also important, whether they suffered a TBI or not, to watch for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Signs of PTSD in children
A child who is suffering from PTSD can display any of a number of symptoms. These include:
- Insomnia and/or nightmares
- Increased anger and irritability
- Feelings of hopelessness and despair
- Fear and anxiety
Children, like many adults who have been involved in a crash, often get stuck in reliving the event in their head or aloud over and over. They may fear getting in a car or going anywhere near the scene of the crash.
How do you know if your child needs help?
It can be difficult sometimes to determine how much of a child’s behavior is the result of the trauma of the crash and how much is just their “normal” behavioral issues. If your child is prone to temper tantrums or crying fits, however, they may become more frequent and intense. On the other hand, a child may be in denial or shock and shut down emotionally.
If your child doesn’t seem to be getting back to their old self and you’re concerned about how they’re processing the crash, it’s wise to let them talk to a therapist who can determine whether they need ongoing treatment. Remember that mental health treatment, like medical treatment, should be covered by the at-fault driver and their insurance provider. It’s wise to have legal guidance so that you don’t agree to less than you’re entitled to receive.