Dealing with Emotional Damage After a Car Accident
Nobody hesitates to treat physical injuries as a result of a car accident. Typically, when you call the police to sort insurance exchange and file your statements, they will be followed by first responders that will treat your injuries should you have any. If you suffered from whiplash, you’re almost expected to go to the doctor or chiropractor. And even after, if you have sustained extensive injuries, you may even experience some long-term physical therapy. So the question is, why not worry about your mental health?
Although unlike physical injuries, emotional trauma can be easily ignored and put aside. However, being part of an accident, no matter how severe, can be quite traumatic. Don’t neglect your mental health. Instead, here are a few tips you can follow to address your emotional injuries, relieve your anxiety, and start living like before.
Research Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
When you think of PTSD, you’re probably associating it with soldiers who endure harsh combat encounters. However, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can affect anyone who has lived through something stressful and traumatic. Yes, even a car accident. But, not everyone who goes through something traumatic gets PTSD.
So, don’t fret; here is a list of symptoms you can use to familiarize yourself and help you identify if you or any passenger may be suffering from PTSD.
Some of the most common indicators that you may be suffering from PTSD are:
- They are frequently reliving the trauma, such as flashbacks or recurring nightmares.
- They avoid things that may remind you of the traumatic event, like driving or even talking about the accident.
- A reduction in emotional contact.
- The person may also suffer from exaggerated reactions in everyday situations unrelated to the accident. This can include startling easily, feeling exceptionally irritable, or being unable to sleep.
Even though no one is sure exactly what may have caused a person to develop PTSD over others, it seems that chronic pain post-accident can be an important factor.
Learn How to Remain Calm
Whether or not you have ASD or PTSD, heightened anxiety after an accident is common. Recognize that anxiety is both normal and manageable. Try the following things when you find yourself becoming anxious:
- Practice mindful breathing. Take slow, deep breaths.
- Focus on the world around you. Notice physical objects in the present moment instead of mentally reliving the accident.
- Learn and use muscle relaxation techniques.
A therapist or mental health professional also can help you learn anxiety-controlling techniques specific to your personality and situation. Contact a mental health specialist if you feel unable to cope with anxiety, if anxiety interrupts your everyday life, or if you’re worried about your anxiety in any way.
Look After Yourself
You have just experienced an extremely scarring event. Take it easy on yourself; give yourself time to cope. Please treat this as a physical injury, give it time to heal.
When you can, focus on the positives in your life. Make it as good as you can. Eat healthily, drink water, do some exercise if you can. Also, if physical injuries allow it, try going back to those hobbies that make you happy. Like listening to music, watching movies, or knitting a sweater. Anything to enable you to create a semi-comfortable environment so you can heal at your own pace.
Do not confuse this as ignoring your feelings, though. It’s vital to address your feelings now and then. Comfort yourself when you need to, but don’t remain stagnant.
Settling for silent suffering will only add to your mental distress. Talk to a family member or a friend about your experience and even ask them what they think you should do to make things a bit better. You don’t have to step entirely out of your comfort zone. If you feel like leaving out some details of the accident that would hit too close to home, that’s fine. However, you will need someone available to help you process your emotions.
An alternative route is to see a therapist who can help you work through your issues. Also, therapist appointments are confidential. So you can share all you want to and not feel guilty or judge by those close to you.
Don’t suffer alone during these trying times. Make sure you obtain the correct treatment for your mental health, not only your physical injuries. Talk to a personal injury attorney to make sure you are receiving the treatment you need. You may be entitled to some compensation for your pain and suffering.