A serious car accident is one of the most stressful and life-altering events you can go through. While some people recover from an accident without any lasting emotional issues, others struggle daily with the psychological effects of the crash. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and other mental health concerns are common after a collision, but you don’t have to navigate the aftermath of your car accident on your own. An injury attorney can help you recover the compensation you need to professionally treat your PTSD and heal from the traumatic experience. Here is everything you need to know about post-traumatic stress and other emotional issues after a collision:
What Is PTSD?
PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after you experience a traumatic event. When your life or safety is in immediate danger, your body and mind go into a heightened state of awareness and alertness as a form of protection. Then, even after you’re no longer in danger, you may still carry the weight of this experience with you. People with PTSD feel like they’re constantly on edge, and you may even feel as if you’re reliving the event over and over in your mind.
Why Car Accidents Can Cause PTSD
A major car accident can be an intensely traumatizing experience. During and immediately after the crash, you may be unsure whether you have sustained injuries or whether you’ll make it out alive. The fear, panic, and confusion that happens during a collision can be so difficult to deal with, and it can have a lasting impact on your mental and emotional state.
Trauma can be particularly common if your loved ones were involved in the accident. Not only are you worrying about your own safety in this situation, but you’re also scared for the lives of your friends or family.
The emotional repercussions of a collision can take a massive toll on your quality of life. Every time you get behind the wheel, you might be reminded of the traumatic event. If you suffer from stress or anxiety whenever you drive, you have to grapple with your PTSD almost every single day. A task that used to feel simple, like driving to the supermarket, may now require a great deal of emotional energy.
Signs and Symptoms of PTSD After an Accident
PTSD does not appear exactly the same in everyone, so your symptoms may vary. However, there are some common experiences that many people with PTSD after a collision share. The following are key signs and symptoms of PTSD following a car accident:
Flashbacks: You might have vivid, intense memories of your car accident that make you feel like you’re reliving the experience. The smallest reminder of the situation could trigger a flashback, and you may struggle to break free from the memory once it takes over your mind. Flashbacks can be incredibly distressing, and they can prolong your suffering from the crash by retraumatizing you.
Nightmares: Vivid nightmares can feel similar to flashbacks. If you’re dealing with PTSD after an accident, you might experience terrifying dreams about the collision or the aftermath. Sometimes, you may wake up with a clear recollection of your nightmare. Other times, you may wake feeling anxious or unsettled but are unable to recall your dreams in detail. Nightmares can severely disrupt your sleep, which can make it even more difficult to handle your stress or anxiety throughout the day.
Avoidance: People with PTSD often try to avoid places, people, or situations that remind them of the traumatic event. One of the most common signs of PTSD following an auto accident is avoiding the site of the crash. You might try to take alternate routes so that you don’t have to relive the trauma of the collision, or you may even avoid driving altogether. Because driving is an essential task for so many people, avoidance can be an extremely challenging and life-changing symptom.
Guilt: Shame and guilt are common emotions to carry after a car accident. Even if the collision wasn’t your fault, you might ruminate about the crash and wonder whether you could have done something to prevent it. If others were harmed during the crash, the feelings of guilt can be especially overwhelming. This experience can prevent you from moving on after the collision and can lead to serious psychological distress.
Self-destructive behavior: Some people engage in substance abuse and other reckless behaviors after a car accident in an attempt to numb themselves and avoid their memories. Substance abuse is particularly common in people who sustained both physical and psychological damage from the crash. Drugs and alcohol may reduce your physical pain while also providing mental or emotional relief, but this relief is only temporary.
What to Do if You’re Struggling After a Collision
If you’ve suffered physical or psychological damage after a car accident, support is available. No one should have to manage their PTSD on their own, so it’s important to reach out to a mental health professional. Counseling is an excellent option for those who are recovering from traumatic events because it provides a safe, private environment for you to process your experiences.
Financial support is also available for people who have been impacted by an auto accident. Your insurance company will work with you and the other parties involved to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, vehicle repairs, and other costs. The best thing you can do after your accident is to document every medical bill and every visit to a doctor or mental health professional so that you have proof of the damages.
A car accident lawyer can be a valuable source of support after your collision, too. Although your insurance company has a responsibility to compensate you, they may not offer you all that you deserve. Your attorney will fight for you to receive full compensation for your healthcare expenses and pain and suffering. They understand how to communicate effectively with insurance representatives and how to prove damages in court if necessary.
Dash Injury Law provides legal support to individuals suffering from PTSD and other emotional issues after a car accident. You can reach out to us today to schedule a free consultation.