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For most people, a serious car crash means financial setbacks and focusing on healing from physical injuries. However, in many cases, an injury victim deals with significant unseen injuries. The emotional toll that a car crash takes on your productivity, day-to-day tasks, relationships and general well-being can be completely life-altering. Car wrecks are incredibly violent and traumatic events that send ripple effects through your life. The mental health trauma after a car accident that you may experience may get pushed aside in favor of visible injuries. However, it’s important to know the signs that you may be suffering emotionally so that you get the treatment you need.
If you’ve been involved in a crash that left you with serious physical injuries, don’t try to cope with your emotional trauma on your own. Getting treatment for your mental health is just as important as receiving help for your physical injuries.
Why is discussing mental health trauma important after a car accident?
The initial moments after a car crash are often described as frightening. You may experience a rush of adrenaline which can mask your physical injuries. In addition, the initial shock of a car crash can leave you feeling anxious and uncertain of what lies ahead if you or a passenger’s injuries are severe. Discussing mental trauma after a car accident is typically overlooked. However, people who were injured in a crash face an uphill battle when it comes to their recovery. Serious or catastrophic injuries after car crashes are often life-altering. In other words, even when a person reaches maximum medical recovery, they may still only be able to do a portion of what they were able to do prior to their injuries.
While many people view their injuries as a medical concern and seek the expertise of a doctor, they may not understand that their car accident is also a legal issue. In short, when someone else is at fault for harming your life, be it physical, mental or financial, you are entitled to recompense.
What sort of emotional trauma can a person experience after a car crash?
There is no limit to the mental anguish a person can experience after a motor vehicle crash. Even if an injured person can resume a normal life after undergoing surgery, physical therapy or other treatments, how they move through life may be severely altered or limited. The mental health trauma an injured person can experience after a car crash include the following:
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
According to a study from the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), nearly 40% of car accident victims suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the aftermath of their crash. In fact, research further says that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of PTSD in the United States. Car accidents are the foremost cause for PTSD trauma for men and second for women. It’s estimated that there are about 6 million car crashes every year that result in 2.5 million injuries.
What are the signs that I’m suffering from PTSD after my car crash?
Car accident victims may not realize the signs that they are struggling after a crash. However, if you directly experienced a car crash or someone close to you is exhibiting the following behaviors, seek medical treatment as soon as possible:
- Intrusive, recurrent or involuntary negative memories.
- Repeat nightmares or upsetting dreams with content related to the trauma.
- Experiencing flashbacks or feeling like the negative memory is happening again.
- Intense or prolonged distress after the car accident.
- Experiencing panic attacks after the crash.
- Avoidance—the car accident victim may avoid driving or riding as a passenger.
- Persistent negative emotions such as fear, horror, anger or guilt.
- Inability to experience positive emotions.
- Diminished interest in activities that were once enjoyable.
- Alienated, detached or estranged from friends and family.
This is not an exhaustive list of signs a car crash victim is experiencing PTSD.
How to spot anxiety after a car crash
Anxiety affects at least 40 million adults in the United States—making it the most common form of mental illness. In fact, increased anxiety is a type of mental health trauma after a car crash that is common. Considering that only 36.9% of adults with anxiety get the help they need, it’s important that you’re able to recognize the symptoms and get the treatment you need. The following indicate you or someone close to you is suffering from anxiety after a car crash:
- Feeling nervous, restless or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
- Having trouble sleeping
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- Having difficulty controlling worry
- Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
Further, anxiety after a car crash can present severe cases of amaxophobia (fear of riding in a car) and vehophobia (fear of driving).
Recognizing the signs of depression after a motor vehicle collision
With the rise in discussions on mental health, depression is often centered in the conversation. The way a person’s life changes after a car accident can lead to severe depression. Unfortunately, there are several factors that can lead to this type of mental health trauma after a car accident. In particular, cases where bodily injury is severe or finances are badly affected have long-lasting effects even after physical injuries have healed. If you were involved in a crash, no matter the level of your injuries or damage to your vehicle, it’s important that you and those around you keep an eye out for the following signs of depression:
- Loss of pleasure and interest in normal activities
- Feelings of sadness nearly every day
- Deep feelings of unhappiness nearly every day
- A feeling of emptiness nearly every day
- Sleeping more than usual
- Ongoing insomnia
- Frequent bad dreams
- Easily agitated
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble thinking or speaking
- Crying for no obvious reason
Unfortunately, there is no definitive test to show the extent of depression or other emotional traumas. However, when you speak with an injury lawyer, in addition to discussing your physical injuries, it’s important to discuss the effects the auto collision has had on your mental health.
Can I get compensation for my mental health trauma after a car crash?
Yes. After a car crash, an injury lawyer can help you get the compensation you’re entitled for your mental health treatment. This includes everything from medication to therapy. Call a qualified car accident lawyer to discuss your legal options.
We care. We can help.
The Carlson Law Firm has long prided itself on the compassionate legal representation we provide to our clients. If you or a loved suffered an injury in a car crash, there is a car accident lawyer nearby who can help.
Give us a call at 800-359-5690 or go to our locations page to find a car accident lawyer near you.