Emotional and Mental Issues After a Car Accident
Bill Allen | February 18, 2022 | Car Accidents
If you’ve been in a car accident, you know that the consequences aren’t just physical injuries and property damage. Emotional distress and mental strain are very common, even if you weren’t the one driving or the party at fault.
Psychological distress can last even longer than your physical injuries after an accident, but it often goes unnoticed or untreated.
If you’re filing a claim for medical care for your physical injuries and the replacement of a damaged vehicle, you may also consider filing a claim for the mental trauma you’ve suffered. Stress due to a car accident can affect your mental health and make it harder to work, care for your family, or even drive again.
Emotional Effects of a Car Crash
Common emotional effects after a crash mimic the symptoms of chronic anxiety or depression.
You may experience:
- Mood swings and feelings of anguish or anger
- Feelings of humiliation or fear
- Loss of appetite
- Increased substance or alcohol use
- Problems sleeping or nightmares
- Crying or irritability
Psychological stress affects your ability to concentrate, which impacts your performance at work or school. You might also fear driving or even riding in a car after an accident, making it difficult for you to attend school or go to work.
Some people may find that their emotional distress is short-lived, but others may struggle for months or longer after the accident.
PTSD After a Car Accident
Trauma from a car accident can lead to significant mental health issues. Chief among these is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While it’s commonly associated with military veterans, the truth is that PTSD can occur after any kind of traumatic event.
Violent car accidents can trigger the condition in both adults and children. In fact, in one study, 39% of automobile accident survivors developed PTSD.
Coping with PTSD and overcoming the fear of driving often requires ongoing therapy, which can be expensive. Treating mental conditions should be part of a car accident settlement. Children, especially, may be vulnerable to long-term anxiety and mental distress following an accident.
Alleviating Mental Stress After a Car Wreck
The trauma from your car accident can be debilitating and upsetting, but there are a few ways that you can alleviate some of the symptoms and recover.
Talk about how you’re feeling with a trusted friend or family member. Or consult with a therapist specializing in PTSD and post-accident trauma. Your feelings and emotions are very normal, so don’t shy away from treatment because you feel embarrassed about the fear and pain.
Stay engaged in your routine and daily life. You may not wish to get in a car again after the accident, but try to still participate in your work and daily activities, such as walking around your neighborhood and socializing with family and friends. Exercise (as much as you can if you’re recovering from physical injuries) to help naturally boost your mood.
Take a defensive driving course. You may find it hard to get back behind the wheel of a car, but the tips in the course can help you feel more in control on the road. You can also lower the risk of future accidents with a defensive driving course and may even save some money on your insurance.
When you start driving again, make sure that each trip is free from distractions. This includes refraining from using your phone, eating, and listening to the radio. Always make sure that you don’t drive if you’ve been taking medication that can make you drowsy, and never operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
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