People who experience serious motor vehicle accidents are at a greater risk of suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disorder after a life-threatening event, or sustaining severe injuries. Some of the symptoms to look out for include changes in emotional reactions, avoidance behaviour, negative thoughts and mood, intrusive memories, and more.
A lack of social support, being extremely emotional after an accident, and prior psychological adjustment issues are among the factors that increase the risk of getting post-traumatic stress disorder. Here’s how to cope with PTSD after a car accident.
Talk to a personal injury lawyer
If a car accident has left you with post-traumatic stress, you could end up missing work, stopping working altogether, losing your social life, and requiring extensive mental and physical therapies to recover, warranting compensation. Hiring a personal injury lawyer can help you prove that your PTSD results from the accident you suffered and ensure that you’re fairly compensated, avoiding financial losses.
Talk to someone
Going through PTSD in silence can increase your mental anguish and distress. Consider talking to a friend or family member about the traumatic experience you underwent and how you’re coping. This helps you relieve emotional stress and also ensures you have emotional support throughout the recovery process.
Don’t neglect self-care
When feeling anxious or in distress, it’s easy to neglect your needs. You may find yourself being anti-social, not getting enough sleep, eating unhealthy foods, and avoiding physical activity, increasing the risk of post-traumatic stress. Interacting with others, having healthy meals, exercising, and sleeping enough can help you fight PTSD.
Learn how to manage anxiety
Post-traumatic stress involves high levels of anxiety which is normal and manageable. Learning how to manage anxiety can help you feel relaxed, reducing the risk of severe PTSD. Consider engaging in mindful breathing, which involves alternating between controlled slow and fast breathing sessions. Engage in physical activities and avoid being alone to avoid reliving the accident. You can also reach out to a mental health professional or a therapist for advice and to learn anxiety controlling techniques.
Seek professional help
Getting over a traumatising car accident can be difficult, especially if you’ve tried everything you can and still find it hard to cope with your daily activities. Consider seeking professional help if you have no one to talk to, find it hard to sleep, and experience nightmares about the accident.
Additionally, if you find yourself avoiding others, being unable to work due to stress, experiencing mood swings, or turning to substances like alcohol and smoking to help you cope, it’s a sign you need professional assistance. If you find it difficult to cope with your emotions, it can leave you unhappy, anxious, nervous, and overwhelmed, so be sure to speak with a professional as soon as you can.
Go for treatment
Post-traumatic stress disorder is treatable. If you’re finding it difficult to cope, consider treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy, which focuses on the relationship between your feelings, thoughts, and behaviour, supportive talk therapy to deal with anxiety, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing to help you recover by recalling the accident to reduce trigger feelings each time you remember the event.
A car accident can leave you overwhelmed and traumatized. Consider using the above tips to deal with post-traumatic stress resulting from a vehicle accident.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health and well-being.