A car accident can not only harm your physical health and cause many injuries to your body, but it can also affect you mentally and emotionally. Unfortunately, not many car accident victims take proper steps to heal from the trauma they endured. Of course, for many people, physical rehabilitation is a long journey that involves frequent doctor’s appointments and physical therapy that can take a lot of time, effort and money, but make sure not to neglect your mental health either. It’s important to take your time to recover from emotional trauma, too. Here’s what you need to know about car accidents and their effect on mental and emotional health.
The immediate shock
If you get injured in the accident, you will be handled by the emergency teams and taken to a hospital. However, even if you’re not hurt at all, you will most likely exhibit some signs of emotional distress or shock. Most people experience shock as shaking, nausea, dizziness, rapid breathing and sweating. Some people involved in car accidents go into so-called autopilot when they call the police, take care of the victims, take photos of the scene and give statements. However, when everything is over and they calm down, they can get into a delayed shock and even suppress memories of the event.
Stress effects after the accident
Soon after the accident, the shock can grow into anxiety. Many people can’t stop replaying the accident in their mind, thinking about what they could have done differently and how the whole thing could have been avoided.
Even if it wasn’t their fault, they might blame themselves for the accident or they might experience anger towards everyone involved. Anxiety like this is normal and it usually goes away after a short period of time. For some people, mental and emotional effects tend to last longer. It’s not unusual to experience irritability, insomnia, nightmares, lethargy and difficulties concentrating.
Ways to heal
No matter the level of anxiety you’re experiencing, it’s important to see someone and ask for help. It can be painful to reach out to someone, but talking about your feelings will help your recovery process tremendously. Also, try to go back to your normal daily routines like cooking, getting exercise, working, spending time with friends and family and so on. Try to stay away from caffeine, alcohol and drugs—these might make things momentarily easier, but they will intensify the negative feelings in the long run. Your life will most likely return to normal sooner or later.
In case the accident wasn’t your fault and you suffered both physical and emotional injury, you can claim compensation. Claiming for physical injury is easy since there are visible signs of trauma, but emotional injuries are not only less obvious but also more serious, long-lasting and harder to understand. You should be able to collect some money for the emotional pain you went through. Also, if you can’t work due to your injury, you should find some experienced superannuation lawyers who will help you receive a lump sum or monthly payments. Professionals can read through the small print of your policy and identify all the best benefits you can get.
Extreme cases of trauma
If the effects of your trauma don’t go away even after three months and your anxiety continues (or worsens) you might be suffering from the post-traumatic stress disorder. This is a much more serious mental condition that’s triggered by traumatic events.
PTSD can cause intense memories of the crash and trigger horrible nightmares. You might also be afraid to sit in a car or even be near it or near the traffic. Also, passing the site and seeing anything that reminds the person if the accident can worsen the symptoms and cause extreme emotional distress. Symptoms often prevent the person from holding a job, taking care of their kids and continuing with their life. These intense feelings of anxiety and stress can also cause people to become depressed and withdrawn from family and friends and even experience suicidal thoughts. If you experience such feelings or suspect someone you love is going through these mental struggles, make sure to reach out and seek professional help.
While it can be much harder to deal with emotional distress and even admit it to others, once you realize you need help, you’ll quickly recover and get back to your old life.