How A Car Accident May Affect Your Mental Health

car accident mental healthYour physical health is of utmost concern in the initial moments after a car crash. This is understandable as emergency medical care may save your life and reduce the long term effects of physical injury. However, many people overlook the fact that your mental health may also be negatively affected after a car accident. In this article we will discuss the mental and emotional issues car crash survivors typically face, as well as treatment options that can help people to cope.

Anxiety When Dealing With Legal Implications After An Accident

After an accident, you will often find yourself having to sort through a variety of legal concerns. This may include speaking with police officers, filing police reports and dealing with insurance claims. In addition to dealing with the shock of the accident, you may feel confused, frustrated, and overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork you have to do. All of these factors may trigger strong feelings of anxiety.

Working with someone who has expert knowledge of auto collisions and the law can help you feel more in control of the situation. For example, if you’ve experienced a crash in Georgia and don’t know what steps to take, you can contact a car accident lawyer in Douglasville to help you with your case. An experienced attorney can help to reduce your emotional distress because he or she can shoulder the bulk of the legal matters that arise after the crash. A lawyer can also help you to file an emotional distress claim so that you receive compensation for your mental and emotional suffering.

How To Manage Emotional Distress After A Car Crash

We all deal with emotions differently, so it would be unwise to say that you must follow one specific coping strategy. However, many people have found relief just by talking about their experiences. Some people also feel comforted after speaking with a religious leader or spiritual counselor about the accident. Others utilize meditation or prayer to remain calm when they feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts or emotions. 

Why Anxious Feelings May Persist

There are several reasons you may feel anxious long after a car accident. If you are still recovering from physical injuries you may be concerned about your physical health long term. If you have large medical and legal bills, you may be worried about your financial future. And if you have been in multiple car accidents, you may become very anxious about the thought of driving or traveling by car again. 

There is also the possibility that you were traumatized by the car accident. Although the symptoms of trauma usually decline over time, they may persist if you have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Hallmark symptoms of PTSD include staying away from places of things that remind you of the crash, becoming hypervigilant, getting panic attacks, and reliving the event  via flashbacks, bad dreams, or intrusive thoughts. However, there are a range of other symptoms that you may experience. Other common symptoms of PTSD are:

  • Sleep issues
  • Blackouts
  • Difficulty focusing at work or school
  • Feeling detached from your family members and friends
  • Having aggressive outbursts
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having suicidal thoughts

Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder are so intense and persistent that they interfere with your ability to function each day. Some symptoms, such as depression, blackouts, and sleep issues, may directly damage your physical and mental health over time. If you have serious thoughts of committing suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. A qualified mental health counselor is available 24/7 to provide urgent care.

The Psychological Impact Of A Car Accident On Children

It is also important to consider how children who survive a serious car crash may be affected psychologically. Like adults, children may develop symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. After surviving a car accident, some children have experienced a significant decline in their academic performance, changes in their mood, frequent nightmares, bedwetting, and other signs of developmental regression. These symptoms may persist for more than a year, and are additional causes for concern among parents or legal guardians.

When To Seek Professional Help

Talking to loved ones you trust can help you to manage your emotional distress. However, if you are still unable to function effectively at home, school or work, then you may need to speak to a licensed therapist. A therapist can use talk therapy to help you face, understand, and overcome the anxiety you feel. Your therapist can also teach you healthy coping strategies that you can use outside of the therapy session.

Many people who enter therapy for the first time benefit from individual counseling. In this setting you are able to talk with your therapist one on one. One benefit of individual counseling is that you will learn how to lower your defenses and talk about difficult thoughts and feelings. Other benefits are that you will receive more empathy as well as the undivided attention of your therapist.

As your mental health treatment continues your therapist may recommend group therapy. Group therapy allows you to meet other people who have similar issues. This can be very comforting as it reminds you that you are not alone. Hearing other people’s speak about how they overcame personal obstacles can give you the courage to confront your issues head-on rather than suffer in silence.

If your anxiety symptoms are severe, they may persist even after you begin talk therapy. In cases like this, your psychiatrist or doctor may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication. A combination of talk therapy and medication is much more effective and reducing anxiety than either option on its own. However, some anti-anxiety medications may cause negative side effects.

Pulling your life back together after a car crash is not easy. However, you can regain control of your life by working closely with the legal, medical, and mental health professionals in your area. Talk to a therapist if you struggling to deal with powerful emotions such as guilt, fear, or hopelessness. Many people are pleasantly surprised at how much better they feel after just their first therapy session.