PTSD treatment works for auto accident survivors |

PTSD treatment works for auto accident survivors

other voices
Suzan Wilks

"Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach." — Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Exposure to trauma is a relatively common human experience. One study of motor vehicle accident survivors arrived at a conservative estimate that auto accident-related post-traumatic stress disorder may affect 2.5 to 7 million people in the United States, reflecting a significant public health problem.

In looking at the general population, a large survey of four U.S. cities found the lifetime prevalence rate of PTSD to be 7.4 percent and that auto accidents were among the leading causes of PTSD in this sample.

PTSD results in approximately 3.6 lost work days every month in the United States.

Some trauma survivors with PTSD may not seek help for several years until their symptoms have become chronic …

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that often follows a traumatic event involving actual or threatened death or serious injury to oneself or others.

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Studies of the general population have found that approximately 9 percent of traffic accident survivors develop PTSD and report a phobia of driving.

For many individuals, the symptoms of PTSD following an auto accident may include intrusive reminders of the accident (flashbacks), reluctance or refusal to drive, numbing of emotions or uncontrollable irritability, exaggerated startle and disturbed sleep.

"John" was involved in a motor vehicle accident. The physical injuries healed, and all seemed to be well until it came time for him to return to work, which required him to start driving again.

"Every time I got back in the car I would start to shake so badly I couldn't even switch on the ignition," he said. "I hadn't realized how upset I had been about the crash."

John was on the brink of giving up driving altogether when he was referred to a practitioner of The Rewind Technique.

After the first session, John went home feeling much more relaxed. Over the next few days, the flashbacks and nightmares stopped. He was able to get back into the car, switch on the ignition and drive without any problem.

"I felt as if a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders," he said. "All the burden of anxiety and fear has gone and I have my life back again."

Several different therapeutic approaches have been examined with auto accident survivors.

A three-year follow-up study indicated that participants who had received debriefing or exposure or cognitive behavioral therapy had a significantly worse outcome after treatment, e.g. more psychiatric symptoms, greater anxiety about auto travel, lower overall levels of functioning, prolonged unemployment and more financial problems.

PTSD patients prescribed drugs to reduce symptoms of anxiety while driving were found to be at risk of impaired functioning, short-term memory loss, which interfered with the patient's response to therapy, and rebound anxiety when medication was stopped.

Some trauma survivors with PTSD may not seek help for several years until their symptoms have become chronic and difficult to treat by most conventional therapies.

Studies have shown that approximately 50 percent of people who develop PTSD without seeking psychological treatment continue to have worsening symptoms over time. Therefore, it is important to identify symptoms and seek effective therapy.

The Rewind Technique seems to be the one therapy that provides a reliable mechanism for consistent treatment of PTSD, which results in total recovery. The intervention does not require the patient to discuss any of the distressing detail of the traumatic event with the therapist, and treatment can be successfully completed in as little as one session.

Relief from even chronic PTSD is immediately noticeable following treatment, and all symptoms disappear completely within days.

The technique can be used successfully with all kinds of trauma caused by any frightening event from which there has not been good recovery and the whole range of phobias.

Although virtually unknown in the U.S., there is one approved practitioner working privately in Nevada City.

The Rewind Technique is recommended as the best treatment for trauma in the U.K., and it is hoped that such a consistently rapid and effective treatment will become established for the relief of PTSD in the U.S.

Suzan Wilks lives in Nevada City. She can be contacted at

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