When people think of an accident, they associate it with severe physical injuries. However, car collisions do more than physical bodily harm. A car accident may cause mental suffering, too.
According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, car collisions are the leading cause of mental trauma for men at 25%. And the second most cause for ladies at 13%. Further, the department states that 9% of all accident survivors are likely to develop mental conditions that interfere with their daily life.
One needs to take these symptoms of mental health seriously as they would a concussion or a broken bone.
How does an accident affect your mental health?
A car collision is a shocking and traumatic experience. Most people continue experiencing the shock months and years after the crash. And while it’s normal to be shaken or frightened, sometimes, the damage may be more than you contemplate.
Typically, one can experience the following symptoms and mental responses after a car accident.
- Fear. There’s a possibility you’ll fear getting back into your car after an accident. However, persistent fear is a sign of serious mental condition.
- Flashbacks. There’s the possibility that you’re replaying the accident over and over in your head. At times, this may come involuntarily where you see something and it takes you back to the memory of the car collision.
- Guilt. Some people feel guilty of surviving a fatal accident, whether because they were part of it or they caused it.
If these symptoms persist, seek professional assistance. It could be a sign of a serious mental condition like:
- Anxiety or depression. Anxiety is common to several accident survivors. The symptoms may include: fatigue, trouble concentrating, restlessness and excessive worry. Depression affects your sleeping patterns, changes your appetite and contributes to feelings of hopelessness.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder. Are you having trouble sleeping, feeling scared or uneasy, feeling irritable or angry, not able to drive or return to a vehicle? Then chances are you’re battling posttraumatic stress disorder.
Yes, you’ve seen how a car accident impacts your mental health. But how do you maintain your mental health after surviving a car accident?
Maintaining Mental Health After a Car Accident
- Talk to someone. Suffering in silence only adds to your mental distress and anguish. Share your experiences and coping mechanism with a family member or a close friend. It’s also important to engage a therapist to help you work through the recovery process. A therapist is trained and qualified on how to manage your stress and how to help you cope with your trauma. Ensure you get the best possible therapist.
- Take care of yourself. You’ve just gone through a painful and scary experience. It’s OK to take some time off and heal. Be patient with yourself. The physical and emotional scars will take time to heal. During this period, focus on maintaining a positive mood as possible. Drink plenty of water, eat healthy foods and do some exercises. Also, undertake the tasks you enjoy like listening to your favourite music.
- Manage your anxiety. Heightened anxiety is common after a car accident. However, you must recognise that it’s normal to feel anxious after an accident. It is also possible to manage your anxiety. Talk to your therapist on the best anxiety-controlling techniques.
- Learn about PTSD. Posttraumatic stress disorder affects people who go through a stressful event like a car accident. The good thing is, PTSD is treatable. The psychologist can recommend psychotherapy or behavioural therapy to help you manage the condition. Remember, you should be compensated for any emotional harm resulting from a car accident. Talk to your car accident attorney about your PTSD symptoms and the treatment you’re receiving.
Don’t suffer alone in silence after an accident. Hire the best car accident attorney to pursue compensation for your bodily and mental damages emanating from an accident.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He is interested in mental health and well-being.