The outside world will see the physical damage a car accident can cause to a person, but the mental turmoil is hidden away from view. Sadly, while most car accident victims will tend to their physical injuries, most will ignore the mental anguish brought about by the accident.
It’s not hard to understand why. Physical recovery is often a drawn-out process that takes a long time. There are seemingly endless doctor appointments, chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy can be mentally and physically exhausting.
With all this going on, it’s no wonder car accident victims will sweep their mental anguish under the carpet or disregard it as a consequence of the accident they have to learn to live with. However, psychological symptoms should be confronted with treatment and counseling, or there’s a risk they may start to interfere with everyday life.
Anxiety and Depression is Common After a Car Wreck
During the weeks following a car wreck, victims can go through an emotional upheaval, with a tumultuous shift between anger, worry, fear, shock, disbelief, confusion, and sadness. For most victims, the rollercoaster ride of emotions will settle down over time, but sometimes they will continue to run amok.
If you have gone through a car wreck and are experiencing constant feelings of sadness or fear that build in strength over time rather than subside, then you could be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
For some car accident victims, PTSD symptoms will occur almost instantly. Others will develop symptoms that can be brought on by an emotional or mental trigger, sometimes weeks or months after first experiencing the trauma.
Two of the biggest and most common concerns faced by car accident victims who have been seriously injured are anxiety and depression. The extent of their injuries may mean that their life moving forward looks very different from life before the accident.
They may be facing a future where they can no longer do activities they once enjoyed because of new limitations. Their work-life may change significantly, or they may have to find another occupation because of their injuries.
Many car accident victims can find it challenging to reconnect or socialize with loved ones after a car accident, especially if they received a concussion or traumatic brain injury.
It’s not hard to understand how a serious car wreck can leave mental scars that run quite deep and put car accident victims at a higher risk of health complications typical of depression and anxiety.
When to Ask for Help
Consider seeking help from a mental health professional if you find yourself struggling with unwanted thoughts and feelings after a car accident. Be sure to book an appointment as soon as possible if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Having thoughts of self-harm or hurting others
- Using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism
- Constant dreams or nightmares about the event
- Trouble focusing and concentrating
- Becoming emotionally disconnected
- An unreasonably high level of fear related to driving or riding in cars
- A heightened sense of uneasiness or anxiety
- Unreasonable anger and increased irritability
- Trouble sleeping and lack of appetite
Trauma Treatment Can Make a Big Difference
Physical recovery is essential, but so too is taking care of your mental health during the weeks and months after the accident. It’s important to deal with your feelings, rather than try to push them down inside yourself.
Friends and family members can provide a lifeline and a shoulder to lean on, but chances are they are not equipped with the knowledge or tools to heal your emotional trauma.
There are excellent evidenced-based treatments available that can help your brain to “reset” itself, so the trauma and memories associated with it no longer trigger unhelpful thoughts and negative feelings.
Successful treatment with a therapist trained in treating trauma can greatly improve your quality of life. Learn more about how counseling can help you to recover emotionally from a traumatic event here: Trauma Treatment