Getting in a car accident is one of the scariest things that can happen. Whether it was a minor fender bender or you were injured in a high-impact crash, the mental toll it can take on you emotionally is enough to create lasting trauma. In fact, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs, car accidents are the most common cause of trauma for men and the second most common cause of trauma for women.
Immediately following a car accident there are certain steps everyone knows to take. Swap insurance, alert the authorities, file a report, and hire a reputable attorney.
Especially if the accident wasn’t your fault. But what happens after? After you’ve received a settlement, after you’ve had your bumper replaced? You might be afraid to get back behind the wheel. Certain sensory effects may trigger feelings of anxiety. Unfortunately, there doesn’t always tend to be a ton of support or resources for those experiencing car accident anxiety and PTSD.
Regardless of the type of accident it was, it’s so important that you care for your mental health after a car accident. You don’t want to neglect any anxiety or trauma only to have it resurface later on, especially since it’s likely to be triggered when you’re driving, increasing the risk of having another accident.
From speaking to a therapist to taking virtual therapeutic yoga lessons to clear your mind, here are 5 helpful ways to care for your mental health after a car accident.
Caring For Your Mental Health After A Car Accident: Why It’s Important
So you got in a car accident. Maybe you broke your wrist, maybe you strained your neck, either way, one of the first things you’ll do is visit a doctor. If it was a more serious crash, an ambulance will almost certainly rush to the scene.
When it comes to mental health, there is no emergency equivalent. That’s why, unfortunately, mental health struggles are so easy to ignore. Checking in on your mental health and giving yourself the time to decompress and acknowledge any negative feelings or emotions is imperative to both your overall well-being, emotional state, and any future driving you might do.
Despite the name, having poor or neglected mental health doesn’t just impact you mentally. Anxiety, depression, trauma, and stress can have very real, physical consequences like trouble sleeping, fatigue, trouble concentrating, change in appetite, digestive issues, muscle tension, headaches, and aches. Many of these can also lead to high blood pressure, chest pain, panic attacks, memory loss, and PTSD.
Even if you don’t experience any immediate mental health issues after an accident, it’s possible that you might suffer physiological effects in the long-term. It’s better to address the situation at the start than have it get worse or pop up when you’re least expecting it.
Types of Mental Health Issues Following A Car Accident
Here are some common symptoms of mental health issues after a car accident. It’s important to note that if you’re experiencing any of these you should seek a mental health counselor or licensed therapist right away.
- Mood swings
- New phobias such as being in a car, driving on interstates, etc.
- Heart palpitations/chest pains (ie panic attacks)
- Stress and anxiety
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Agoraphobia and withdrawing from social situations
- Dissociation (where you don’t feel at home or safe in your body)
Post-Car Accident Mental Health Strategies
Everyone is different and therefore, everyone will react to various mental health practices better than others. Some people might not be comfortable attending in-person therapy, some might hate the idea of exposing themselves to what they fear.
Be patient with yourself and understand that improving the state of your mental health after a car accident might take some trial and error. Below are some of the most popular and effective methods for taking care of yourself after a car accident.
- Talk To Someone
Talking to someone about your car accident doesn’t necessarily mean you need to speak to a counselor or therapist. It also doesn’t mean you need to force yourself to talk if you don’t feel you’re ready. What’s important is that you don’t isolate yourself. Ask family and friends for support, even if that means forcing you out to dinner or another social activity.
Suppressing emotions in the long term only reinforces shame, guilt, loneliness, and fear. It might be helpful to seek out support groups with numerous helpful resources plus a connection to others who are dealing with the same struggles as you.
- Take A Driving Course
If you’re struggling with driving phobia, the worst thing you can do is leave it and hope it gets better. Similarly, the longer you avoid driving the worse your anxiety and fear will get. If you’re having trouble with driving in general or have specific fears like highway driving or busy city streets, a defensive driving course with a caring instructor can lower your risk of future accidents while giving you the renewed confidence to drive again.
- Practice Healthy Habits
While we’re concerned with your mental well-being, taking care of yourself physically is a great way to simultaneously improve your mental state while assisting any of the physical impacts you’re feeling. Try maintaining a healthy routine of keeping active, eating healthy, drinking lots of water, and getting enough sleep. Not only will this help you physically feel better, but give you more mental clarity as well.
- Have ‘You’ Time
It’s time to treat yourself! This will likely mean something different to everyone and that’s okay. The key is to pick something that’s relaxing, indulgent, and most importantly, free from everyday distractions. Whether this is practicing mindfulness, taking a hike, having a spa day, or going fishing, do something you enjoy and try to be as present in the moment as you can.
- Follow-up with Your Doctor
Sometimes, despite your best efforts and mental health practices, you still suffer from PTSD, anxiety, or other trauma-related emotional issues. This isn’t your fault and it’s not always something you can tackle alone. Make sure to follow up with your family doctor to discuss other treatment options. These might include medication, massage therapy, or referrals to other mental health specialists that can better help you on your journey to recovery.
Car Accident Anxiety & Compensation
One of the most common questions we get from someone dealing with mental suffering after a car accident is whether or not they can receive compensation for mental damages. At Mcmullin Injury Law, our Utah personal injury attorneys strive to help you get the best and fairest compensation for any emotional distress you’ve incurred after a traumatic car accident. Keep in mind you’ll need detailed evidence to prove your mental duress including doctor appointment records, eye-witness accounts, letters from work indicating your inability to function, etc.
Regardless, immeasurable relief comes from knowing that someone understands the legal aspects of a case, is handling the paperwork, and answering phone calls during all phases of a personal injury claim.
A skilled, committed, knowledgeable attorney and staff certainly makes a positive difference to someone who has been injured.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident that’s negatively impacted your psychological health, we encourage you to contact our expert attorneys today for a free case evaluation. Call anytime at (435) 258-9338 or fill out our Contact Form today.