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Mental Health After a Car Accident

mental health after a car accident

Car accidents are known to leave victims with serious physical injuries. But unfortunately, physical ailments are often only part of the damage inflicted by another person’s negligent driving.

A traumatic car crash can have devastating mental, psychological, and emotional effects on a victim, leading to conditions that can persist for weeks, months, or even years.

Below is a list of common psychological and emotional injuries that can result from a car accident. If you have suffered from any of these challenging conditions due to your accident, it may be time to speak with a car accident lawyer.

Emotional Distress After a Car Accident

Emotional distress is a generalized term for a state of mental anguish or emotional suffering. This condition can be related to underlying physical or mental health conditions, or it can be inflicted by a traumatic event, such as a car accident.

Though the condition is common, it may not be easy to diagnose or distinguish from other conditions. Symptoms include:

  • Feeling hopeless or overwhelmed
  • Mood swings or sudden mood changes
  • Feeling upset or angry
  • Fearfulness or panic
  • Flashbacks to the crash
  • Sleep and appetite changes
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Withdrawal from family, friends, and loved ones
  • A tendency towards substance abuse

Though emotional distress is usually temporary, it can develop into more permanent mental conditions, such as clinical depression or anxiety.

Depression After a Car Accident

Car accidents can trigger depression, a severe mood disorder caused by genetic, biological, and environmental factors. People suffering from major depressive disorder often withdraw from family, work, and other activities. Other symptoms include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Difficulty concentrating and coping with day-to-day tasks
  • Increased fatigue
  • Sudden mood and appetite changes

One university study found traumatic life events, such as a severe car accident, to be the most significant cause of anxiety and depression.

This woman is experiencing psychological injuries and damaged mental health after a car accident.
Emotional distress is a common psychological injury after a traumatic car accident. In some patients, emotional distress can trigger more chronic conditions, such as anxiety or depression.

Anxiety After a Car Accident

Most people experience anxiety in certain high-pressure situations. Taking a test, giving a speech, or making an important life choice can make anyone anxious. However, people with generalized anxiety disorder experience anxiety for even the smallest reasons—or for no reason at all.

Anxiety causes feelings of fear or dread and can lead to symptoms such as sweating, hyperventilating, a rapid heartbeat, and restlessness. In addition, some patients suffer panic attacks, which are feelings of intense terror that reach a peak in a short period.

People who experience these attacks often try to avoid the situation that brought on the episode. For those who suffer anxiety in the aftermath of a car accident, this can mean refusing to step foot into a vehicle ever again.

PTSD After a Car Accident

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often associated with former soldiers returning from war. Nevertheless, any traumatic event can trigger PTSD, including car crashes. Symptoms of PTSD after a car accident may include:

  • Intense and involuntary memories of the accident
  • Nightmares
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event, such as riding in or driving a car
  • Negative mood changes, including feelings of hopelessness, isolation, or numbness
  • Being easily startled
  • Trouble sleeping, concentrating or experiencing positive emotions

PTSD symptoms wax and wane over time and can be triggered by reminder events, such as watching a movie with a violent car accident or revisiting the intersection where the crash happened.

Insomnia After a Car Accident

Insomnia is a sleep disorder where people have trouble falling and/or staying asleep. Insomnia can appear on its own (primary insomnia) or as a symptom of another condition (secondary insomnia).

Sometimes, a car accident can trigger insomnia, often in tandem with anxiety or PTSD. A victim’s trauma or concerns about their health and well-being may keep them up at night, leading to further memory, concentration, and emotional problems.

Memory Loss After a Car Accident

Following a car accident, victims may have a spotty memory of what happened. Often, the brain is attempting to process a tragic life event and may block out the memory of the crash. This would be an example of post-traumatic amnesia.

Still, if you are experiencing any memory loss after your accident, seek medical care as soon as possible. Though some memory loss is trauma-related, other instances may be related to an undetected skull fracture or traumatic brain injury. These conditions can have devastating effects on your life when left untreated.

How long does it take to mentally recover from a car accident?

The mental, emotional, and psychological recovery period after a car accident varies greatly from person to person. Some experience flashbacks and emotional distress for a few weeks. Others experience months of anxiety about getting into a car or driving on the same stretch of road where the accident occurred. Still, some victims develop permanent psychological conditions that affect their personalities for the rest of their lives.

How to Get Emotional and Psychological Help After a Car Accident

A car accident victim’s psychological injuries, just like physical injuries, require treatment from a qualified medical professional. Every person’s path to recovery is unique. A patient’s mental and emotional symptoms following a traumatic event may be treatable with therapy, medications, lifestyle changes, and/or the support of friends and family.

If you have experienced any mental health issues after a car accident, speaking with a trusted medical provider about your symptoms can help you find the right treatment option. Unfortunately, getting the psychological care you need may not be financially viable, especially when your car accident has forced you to seek expensive car repairs or other forms of medical care.

When you’re emotionally or mentally injured in a car accident you didn’t cause, you can pursue financial compensation from the at-fault driver for the emotional damage they have caused.

With the help of a car accident attorney, you may be able to collect the following damages:

  • General pain and suffering/emotional distress damages
  • Loss of life enjoyment
  • Lost income or earning potential due to your accident-induced mental illness
  • Medical bills to treat your post-crash mental illness
  • Rehabilitation costs for your psychological treatment

Financial relief for these costs may be available through a personal injury lawsuit against the driver at fault for your accident and injuries. A trustworthy lawyer can fight your legal battles while you focus on getting treatment and making a full recovery.

PARRIS Law Firm Fights for Your Mental Health

PARRIS Law Firm fights for the injured—physically or psychologically. Since we first opened our doors in 1985, we’ve won over $1.9 billion for car accident victims.

You deserve to see justice restored, and we’ll fight fearlessly for you until we see that happen. You won’t pay a cent in legal fees until we obtain a verdict or settlement for you and your family.

Call PARRIS today for a free case review.

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