Thousands of car accidents happen on our streets on a daily basis. These accidents not only cause a lot of physical harm to people involved, they also affect them mentally and emotionally.
In many instances, people involved in traumatic car accidents don’t take the proper steps to cope with the trauma they endured. Mental health should be taken seriously and treated immediately to avoid long-term negative effects.
Of course, dealing with mental trauma is no easy task. It’s usually a long journey that includes doctor visits and physical therapy, not to mention the time & money invested. Nonetheless, mental health should not be neglected and should be tended to as soon as you can.
How Can an Accident Affect Your Mental Health?
A car accident can be a daunting, and traumatic experience for anyone. Often, people continue experiencing shock for days or months after the accident had taken place. While it’s not uncommon for a person to be shocked after a traumatic experience, this mental response could lead to dangerous outcomes.
A study done by British researchers that can be found on Web MD found that at least a third of people involved in non-fatal injury accidents develop post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression, among other mental health complications.
Even though it might not be their fault, most people who’ve been through serious accidents develop heightened anxiety that seriously affects their lives. They would continuously replay the events of the accident in their mind, wondering what could’ve been done differently and how the whole scenario could’ve been altered.
Eventually, this leads to feelings of self blame, irritability, and anger. These feelings could disappear after a short period of time, or linger for months, or possibly, years.
Types of Emotional Response to Automobile and Other Accidents
According to Richard Shapiro, partner at Shapiro Appleton Washburn & Sharp in Virginia Beach, when one goes through the traumatic experience of a car crash, they also go through a roller-coaster of emotions that come with it. Identified and worked on correctly, these emotional responses can help us tremendously in the healing process. Here are a few of the most common emotional responses to traumatic experiences:
Anxiety and depression could eat you alive, if not dealt with correctly. Feelings of extreme fatigue, the inability to concentrate, and anguish are strong signs that you may be experiencing issues with depression and anxiety.
Being involved in a serious car accident could lead you to develop a fear of driving or even riding in a motor vehicle as a passenger. While these feelings usually fade away for most, some people might need to see a professional to help them heal.
After experiencing a traumatic event such as a car crash, many people develop survivor’s guilt. A serious condition, survivor’s guilt leads people to develop feelings of shame and resentment, and could be just as or more painful than any physical injuries developed. While you can treat physical injuries and have a predicted timeline for recovery, the mental effects of guilt could take a very long time to heal.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can have different outcomes on different people, but one thing is usually in common: PTSD affects people’s ability to function in their daily lives. This could be through the repetitive remembrance of the events of the accident, developing insomnia, loss of appetite, avoidance behaviors, and more.
How to Cope with Emotional Trauma after a Car Accident
Manage Your Anxiety
It’s common to develop heightened anxiety after a traumatic accident. If you take the right steps, it would be easily manageable.
If you’re feeling anxious, try to practice Mindful Breathing. Start by trying to completely relax yourself, and focus on your breath. Take deep breaths and feel the rise and fall of your chest as the air blows.
Focus on Taking Care of Yourself
Taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do on your journey of healing. Focus on eating healthy foods, drink lots of water, and exercise if you’re able to.
Talk to Someone
It can be extremely helpful to have someone there for you to help you process your emotions.
Whether it be a professional therapist, or your best friend; talk to them about your experience, how you’re feeling, and how you’re coping with everything.
If you’ve developed injuries in your accident, talk to a car accident attorney. An experienced lawyer would help you receive the necessary treatment while fighting for your compensation with insurance and law professionals.