Motor Vehicle Accidents Law

How Car Accidents Affect Your Mental Health

A car accident can be an extremely traumatic experience for anyone involved, whether you or someone else are at fault. While it is typical for those involved in a motor vehicle accident to be most immediately concerned with any obvious physical injuries, mental and emotional damage are often part of the fallout as well.

Common Emotional Distress Symptoms

Any car accident can be emotionally distressing, even if the physical damage to either the vehicles themselves and the passengers is relatively minor. In cases where the crash was more serious, even deeper trauma can result.

Emotional distress can take place, for example, if a driver is at fault and is angry at themselves for being responsible for the crash. On the other hand, victims may feel anger toward the driver who caused the accident. Guilt, shock, worry, fear, sadness, and many other negative emotions can surface after a motor vehicle accident. It is important to share these emotions with a trusted confidant — or a mental health professional, if necessary.

While many victims of a car accident find themselves successfully coping with emotional health issues after the incident, there is no set timetable for an individual's recovery.

Long-Term Mental Health Effects

The emotional or mental injury caused by a car crash can find its way into all aspects of your life. Lost or turbulent sleep can lead to poor performance at work, a lack of interest in your usual hobbies or creative pursuits — or even a distancing from your family, social, and romantic relationships.

Anxiety concerning the crash is common after a car accident. A prolonged sense of uneasiness, nightmares, excessive worry, and avoidance of traveling in vehicles can be signs of persistent anxiety related to the crash.

Depression following an accident is also typical for many victims. Turning to drugs or alcohol as a coping strategy, lack of appetite, excessive sleep or lack of sleep, and suicidal thoughts can be symptoms that you are suffering from depression. In these cases, speaking to a mental health professional is highly recommended.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can also come after a road accident. Replaying the incident over and over in your mind (excessive rumination) can be a primary sign that you may be suffering from PTSD related to the crash.

Keep in mind that it is perfectly normal to be distressed, upset, and "not quite yourself" for a few days or weeks following the crash. If any of the above — or any other worrisome thoughts and feelings — persist for longer than a week, you should seek professional help.

Get Legal Help

In cases where you're suffering serious disruption of your day-to-day life, both in terms of your job and in terms of your personal life — legal options may be available to you.

Regarding car accidents, auto insurance often covers physical injuries. Some offer coverage for counseling or other mental health therapies as well. Consult your automobile insurance provider for more details regarding this possibility.

If the damage to your physical or mental health is substantial enough to impact your employment or your ability to perform tasks such as driving, you might also consider seeking compensation through a personal injury claim. If you speak to a personal injury attorney, be sure to provide any details related to the incident itself, as well as any medical documentation. Any compensation you receive from a personal injury lawsuit can help defray the costs of continuing therapy, and also to offset lost income or your ability to attain future income.