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Identifying PTSD in Dog Bite Victims

Experiencing a dog bite can be traumatic, with lasting impacts beyond just the physical injuries. Often, dog bite victims may experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being bitten, especially children. Following the attack, many dog bite victims do not receive the psychological support they need, and symptoms may persist for months to years after the attack. Thus, recognizing the symptoms of PTSD can be a crucial step in developing a dog bite case.

Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

As defined by the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD is “a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event.” Those who experience a dog attack could experience emotional trauma and develop symptoms of PTSD. These symptoms vary in severity and are generally divided into four categories:

  1. Intrusive Thoughts and Memories: Following a dog bite, victims may experience intrusive thoughts, such as involuntary, recurring memories, vivid flashbacks of the attack, or nightmares and distressing dreams. For many, it feels like they are reliving the traumatic attack.
  2. Avoidance: Since dog bites can be traumatic and stressful experiences, many people may try to avoid or resist similar experiences that remind them of the event. They could purposely avoid people, places, dogs (or specific breeds of dogs), and other circumstances that trigger memories of the event. A person may have trouble speaking about the event or talking to others about how they are feeling about it in order to avoid triggering bad memories.
  3. Changes in cognition and mood: Those injured by dog bites may experience alterations in cognition and mood, be unable to remember parts of the event, and hold negative feelings about themselves. Victims may experience distorted thoughts, loss of interest in activities, and might struggle with understanding the causes and consequences of the attack. They could also feel shame, guilt, fear, anger, and be unable to experience positive emotions.
  4. Changes in arousal and reactivity: Dog bite victims may experience heightened arousal and display reactive symptoms. Some behavioral changes they might experience include:
  • Being easily startled
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Inconsistent sleep patterns
  • Feeling irritable and experiencing angry outbursts
  • Being on “high-alert,” guarded, and tense
  • Acting reckless or engaging in self-destructive behaviors

Dog bite victims may experience the symptoms of PTSD during the days following the event or they might remain latent until months after the attack. These symptoms can occur with related physical and mental conditions, such as depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders.

Contact Connecticut Trial Firm if You Have Suffered PTSD

Dog attacks are distressing experiences that can affect you long after the attack has occurred. If you or a loved one was bitten by a dog or has been involved in a dog attack, it is important to seek medical care and contact a knowledgeable dog bite attorney. You can include post-traumatic stress and your associated behaviors as part of your claim for damages. Contact Connecticut Trial Firm today to seek the compensation you deserve.