Dealing with Emotional Trauma after a Car Accident: Seeking Support and Healing

“Trauma creates change you don’t choose. Healing is about creating change you do choose.”
Michelle Rosenthal

When you are involved in a car accident, your first question is usually, am I hurt? If so, how badly? That’s often immediately followed by, is anyone else hurt? After that comes a litany of questions—Is my car okay? Will I be able to get to work tomorrow? Does the other driver have insurance? Who do I have to call? How much is all this going to cost me?

The question that often gets overlooked, however, is this incredibly important one: How am I emotionally?

According to the National Center of Biotechnology Information, a branch of the NIH, from 25% to 33% of drivers experience PTSD at least 30 days after being involved in a serious car accident. And even less serious accidents often lead to anxiety, stress, depression, insomnia, and other emotional issues. After an accident, a driver may even find themselves reluctant to get behind the wheel again, and that’s a perfectly viable response.

Friends and family may expect you to just get over it, particularly if there’s no physical injury involved. That’s a dangerous mindset. Emotional trauma can be just as debilitating as physical trauma, and should be treated as such.

There are some real steps you can take to help mitigate emotional and mental fallout from a car accident.

Be Self-Aware

You wouldn’t assume you’re physically fine after an accident. Don’t just assume you’re emotionally fine. Pay attention to how you’re feeling and what you’re feeling. Look inside yourself for signs of trauma, and don’t be afraid to ask your loved ones, people who know you, if they’ve noticed any differences in how you’re acting.

Keep in mind that PTSD and other emotional trauma may not be immediately apparent, but may emerge over time.

Symptoms may include:

  • Flashbacks and/or nightmares about the accident
  • Fear of driving, or even being a passenger when someone else is driving
  • Insomnia
  • Emotional detachment
  • Loss of interest in day to day activities
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Suicidal ideation

Emotional trauma as the result of a car accident can be devastating, even life-threatening, and should be taken seriously. Keep in mind that the trauma can be even more unsettling when another party was responsible for the accident.

Practice Self Care

Take care of yourself, literally. Eat healthy, stay hydrated, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. This may seem to have nothing to do with emotional trauma from an accident, but proper self care is often one of the first things that slide when you’re experiencing depression, anxiety, and other symptoms of distress. Again, you know yourself best.

Seek Professional Help and Treatment

If you feel like you’re experiencing PTSD or other emotional issues, even if you’re not sure, seek help.

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders outlines criteria used to help diagnose PTSD. Using that criteria, a medical professional would talk to you to ascertain whether you are indeed suffering from PTSD, and if so, recommend treatment. Treatment could include a variety of different beneficial therapies, and could also include various antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications.

Even if your trauma doesn’t rise to the level of PTSD, it can still be debilitating and long-lasting. Severe anxiety after a car accident is perfectly normal, and can be successfully treated. Find a qualified therapist you’re comfortable talking to.

The bottom line is, with support and the right treatment, healing can begin. Don’t be afraid to take the first step and seek help.

If Another Party was Responsible for the Accident…

…you deserve appropriate compensation for your pain and suffering. Treatment for PTSD and other emotional trauma can be time-consuming and expensive. Seek out an attorney with the experience, staff, and resources to represent you and recover the largest settlement possible.

If you or a loved one are involved in a car accident that causes emotional trauma, contact the attorneys at LaSalvia Law. We will fight to win you the compensation you deserve.

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You can expect to hear from Christine 1-2 days after submitting your inquiry.

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Pay nothing up front. No fee until your case is settled or tried to a jury.