If you were involved in a vehicle crash, you’re likely focused on your physical injuries, which are typically the most obvious and in need of treatment. It’s often not until later that people realize how much the accident has affected their mental and emotional well-being.
Sometimes, people don’t recognize that they may actually be experiencing trauma. Trauma, or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), can occur after a crash even if a person wasn’t injured. It can even happen to those who witnessed a serious crash.
How a crash affects you emotionally can depend on your own psychological make-up, whether you’ve experienced traumatic events in the past and how you perceived the event as it happened. If someone feared they were going to die – even for a few seconds – that can cause trauma that can take time and professional help to heal.
Signs that a crash has affected your emotional health
Even if you don’t consider what you’re experiencing trauma, the aftermath of a crash can cause increased anxiety, fear, sleeplessness, depression and other symptoms that can make going to work and interacting with family and friends difficult. Not surprisingly, some people have a difficult time getting behind the wheel again or being a passenger in a car – even if they weren’t at fault for the crash. In fact, not being at fault can sometimes cause a person to feel more fearful and powerless.
There are things you can do to help heal emotionally. Taking care of yourself is important. That means things like getting enough sleep – but not too much – and getting back to your life as much as possible.
It’s also crucial to do some mental self-care. Focus on the things you can control – especially in a car. You can make yourself as safe as possible by not allowing any distractions while you’re driving (even if that had nothing to do with the crash) and wearing your seatbelt. If you have to get a new car, find one with safety features that will help you feel more comfortable.
If you’re having a difficult time recovering emotionally from the crash, it may be wise to seek mental health treatment. Therapists regularly treat people dealing with trauma, anxiety and stress.
Remember that healing emotionally is just as important as healing physically. When seeking compensation for your medical treatment, don’t neglect the cost of your psychological treatment.