The Mental Impact of a Severe Car Accident

Published on Mar 26, 2024 at 2:51 pm in Car Accidents.

The mental impact of a severe car accident

Car accidents can be life-altering events. Not only do they cause physical injuries, but mental ones as well.

When we think of the aftermath of a severe crash, we often focus on the physical injuries sustained by those involved.

At Pittman, Roberts & Welsh, PLLC, we have seen how the emotional and mental toll can be damaging for severe car accident survivors. Let’s take a look into the mental impact of these traumatic incidents and explore coping strategies for survivors.

Mental Health Trauma

In the United States, recent data suggests that almost 90% of adults have suffered from one potentially traumatic event (PTE) during their lifetime.

After experiencing a traumatic event, such as a car accident, many individuals face emotional challenges related to the incident. When most people think of trauma, they relate it to natural disasters, war, or other catastrophic events. But these are not the only incidents that can impact mental health.

Many people who have survived a severe car accident will also experience the after-effects of trauma, which can develop into mental health issues. Even if you are a bystander or a passenger in a car, witnessing these events can be enough to leave you with a few emotional scars.

Here are some of the most common symptoms that accident survivors may experience.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Regarding a car accident, it can create intense feelings of anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts related to the crash.

Unfortunately, one of the most distressing symptoms is intrusive thoughts. Car accident victims might have recurrent distressing memories or images of the accident. Some people may avoid driving or being near accident sites.

Along with that, car victims often experience hyperarousal. With that, they will constantly feel “on edge” or can be easily startled. In some cases, persistent feelings of guilt are also common with this mental condition.

Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression often coexist after a traumatic event. They can result from the stress, fear, and uncertainty associated with the accident.

Excessive worry, restlessness, irritability, and physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat are all hallmarks of anxiety. While on the other hand, depression can develop into persistent sadness, loss of interest, changes in appetite, and feelings of hopelessness. These emotions can overwhelm accident victims.

Anguish and Fearfulness

These emotions can overwhelm accident survivors, especially if they were involved in a crash that resulted in a fatality, affecting their ability to function in daily life. These symptoms may develop into intense emotional pain, grief, and a sense of loss.

Along with that, there is also a sense of fearfulness. Someone involved in a major accident may also have a persistent fear of driving, being in a vehicle, or encountering similar situations.

Sleep Disturbances

Trauma disrupts sleep patterns. Many times, it can lead to insomnia, nightmares, or restless sleep. Those suffering from these issues will have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

Like PTSD, sleep disturbances can also include nightmares. Car accident victims often have vivid, distressing dreams related to the crash.

Avoidance Behaviors

These behaviors are not uncommon after a car accident. If a certain area affects your mental health, you may want to avoid it. Some survivors may avoid driving altogether due to the fear of another accident. They may refuse to get behind the wheel or feel extreme anxiety while driving.

Unfortunately, this can lead to social isolation as the person will avoid using transportation or getting in a vehicle. In turn, they may feel their home is the only safe place.

Coping Strategies

While these post-accident mental health concerns can disrupt daily life, there is hope for those suffering from trauma from a car accident in Jackson, MS. When it comes to treatment, there are several effective options available.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This treatment focuses on identifying unhelpful thought patterns and replacing them with more effective coping mechanisms and problem-solving skills.
  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE): This therapy helps individuals gradually confront and process traumatic memories, feelings, and situations.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): These methods allow individuals to reprocess traumatic memories and reduce their emotional impact.
  • Medication: Antidepressants may help reduce symptoms of depression associated with trauma. While anti-anxiety medications may be able to help lessen the feelings of anxiety that are associated with driving or traveling on roadways.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, there is a helpline to get assistance for your situation. You can contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by texting or calling 988. Doing so will connect you to a counselor who can help you find resources in your area.

Not all treatments are right for everyone. You will want to consult a mental health professional to find the best fit for your needs. Healing from trauma is possible, and seeking professional support is a vital step toward recovery.

Get Assistance for Your Car Accident Injuries

Healing from a car accident involves both physical and emotional recovery. The mental impact of a severe car accident is real and deserves attention. These injuries can be just as devastating as physical ones.

By recognizing trauma and seeking support, survivors can gradually regain their confidence and emotional well-being.

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