• May 13, 2016
  • Lakin Larimore

PTSD and Professional Driver: The Warning Signs

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness that is caused from being exposed to a trauma. While PTSD is most commonly associated with those with a military background, it can be caused from any traumatic experience, including the following:

  • Sudden death of a loved one
  • Assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Car or plane crashes

This observation was recently supported by recent article in Fleet Owner called “Underreported: Drivers not seeking help for mental health issues. “The PTSD that we’re going to see more of is really about witnessing violence, being part of violence, witnessing traumatic events on the road. PTSD episodes can be triggered by more time on the road. We hear PTSD and we think war and veterans coming back from conflicts and that’s a problem,” said Mona Shattell, Professor and Chairperson, Community Systems and Mental Health Nursing at Rush University’s College of Nursing. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are four types of symptoms and can appear up to three months after the initial event (listed below).


While two different people can experience the exact same event, like a car accident, they may process those feelings in very different ways. Avoiding the place where the event occurred or people that were involved or remind you of the event is normal and even talking about the event itself is even normal. However, if you still are having difficulty going back to a normal routine and talking about those events, it may be a symptom of PTSD.

Negative changes in thinking and mood

This symptom refers to big personality changes like negative feelings about yourself or other people, inability to experience positive emotions or lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed. Other symptoms include memory problems and difficulty maintaining close relationships.

Changes in emotional reactions

These are also called arousal symptoms and include the following:

Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior

  • Always being on guard for danger
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Being easily startled or frightened

Intrusive memories

Intrusive memories are things like reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again or having dreams about the event. Experiencing severe emotional distress or even physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event is something you need to take seriously.

As mentioned earlier, PTSD symptoms can vary depending on the individual. It is normal to be anxious or depressed after a traumatic event, but if those feelings persist you should call your health professional.




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