The Mental & Emotional Toll of Being Involved in an Accident

woman with depression

After someone is involved in a car crash, most people primarily focus on the physical injuries. However, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of civilian cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the United States.

Recognizing Auto Accidents as a Form of Trauma

Many times, when a person is asked if they have ever experienced any trauma in their life, many don’t consider that a car accident is indeed a very traumatic experience. This oversight is because people typically assume trauma has to be something as significant as the death of a loved one or a natural disaster. Trauma can be anything that is “deeply distressing or disturbing,” and that is different for each individual.

You don’t necessarily have to be the driver in a collision for it to be traumatic. You can be a passenger or a bystander for an accident to have emotional and psychological effects on you.

Understanding the Emotional Impacts

Following an accident, many people experience emotional distress. It is a normal part of the healing process.

You may begin to notice signs of:

  • Increased stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anguish
  • Fearfulness
  • Irritability
  • Issues with sleep
  • Reoccurring nightmares
  • Flashbacks about the crash

These emotions can sometimes lead to avoidance behaviors.

For example, many people become scared to drive or be a passenger in a vehicle after an accident. As a result, they may avoid driving to work, appointments, events, school, etc., due to the fear of getting into another accident. Many people become hypervigilant when driving or riding in a vehicle after an accident and constantly look around, fearing being involved in another.

Feelings of Guilt and Shame

Another issue many people experience after an accident is guilt and shame. Many people feel ashamed or embarrassed that they are having a difficult time coping with the emotional toll that an accident takes. This reluctance to discuss issues can result in “bottling up their emotions” and not talking about their feelings.

Often, people feel like an accident “isn’t enough” to substantiate the feelings that they’re having. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is quite common for people to have a strong emotional reaction after an accident that takes time to heal and overcome.

Additionally, some people feel a strong sense of guilt after an accident. Whether that guilt has to do with others who may have been injured, thoughts of what they could have done to avoid the crash from taking place, or a feeling that it is “selfish” for them to think about themselves after the incident.

Often, when somebody’s healing from their physical injuries, they find themselves isolated and alone because they are not working or going to school, and they are out of their regular routine. The physical healing that the injuries typically require results in a lot of time alone, which can sometimes increase depression and other emotional issues.

Feelings of “missing out on things” or being left alone or forgotten are quite common when somebody is healing from an accident. Also, anxiety and stress can increase if you are not able to work and are worried about your financial obligations.

Overcoming Anxiety and Stress

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, there are a few suggested ways to work through and overcome these feelings after an accident. First, take care of yourself. When experiencing stress or feeling anxious, it’s easy to neglect basic needs such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising, maintaining your routine, and staying social.

If that isn’t enough, seek professional assistance. A qualified mental health professional can help you process the accident, give you tools to reduce anxiety and stress, and help manage the emotional toll an accident can take on you.

Your Mental and Emotional Health Matters

A victim who sustained mental and emotional injuries after an accident may be entitled to financial compensation for these particular losses. Seek an experienced attorney's advice to help maximize your recovery by documenting and proving these damages.

If you are experiencing any emotional or mental challenges after an accident, you are not alone. It is widespread for people involved in collisions to have an emotional component of their healing that needs to be addressed.

At Pittman Law Firm, P.L., we address all the injuries and damages our clients sustain in an accident. That includes physical injuries, mental and emotional injuries, as well as financial damages in the form of medical bills and loss of income.

To schedule a consultation with our attorney in Bonita Springs, please get in touch with us at (239) 603-6913.

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