Emotional Distress: How To Heal Mentally After A Car Accident

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Florida Physical Medicine

There are millions of car accidents in the United States each year. After most of them, the focus is on physical injuries with little attention paid to the mental injuries that may occur. Once the initial shock has worn off, many of those involved begin to deal with emotional distress, and some may actually develop PTSD. If you have been involved in an accident and are suffering from emotional distress, these tips can help you heal.


Types of Emotional Distress

Before looking at ways to help you heal from emotional distress after an accident, it is important to understand what some of the signs of distress are in order to manage them. The symptoms may appear immediately after the accident, or it could be months, or even years, later that you begin to experience them. Some of the symptoms to look for include:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Avoiding activities you used to enjoy
  • Avoiding medical tests or procedures
  • Continually thinking about the accident
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Disbelief that it happened
  • Fear
  • Fear of riding in vehicles or driving
  • Flashbacks
  • Guilt
  • Nightmares
  • Reliving the accident
  • Shock
  • Unexplained uneasiness
  • Unusual nervousness


Talk to Someone

The first step in healing emotionally from an accident is to talk to someone. You can talk to a friend or family member or seek professional help. You will want to go over the details of the accident, including what you were doing before it happened and the days after.

It is possible that you may have some anxiety about routine activities because you were doing them before the accident. For example, if you no longer want to meet your friends for lunch because you were on the way home from a luncheon when the accident happened, you may be dealing with mental distress from the accident.

Keep in mind that friends and family will be extremely supportive after the accident, but if your emotional distress lingers, you may want to seek a professional counselor to help you deal with the distress.


Remain Active

Although you may not feel like returning to normal activities, the best thing you can do is try to return to the activities you loved before the accident as soon as possible. If you are still dealing with physical injuries or limitations, talk to your doctor about things you can do to remain active.

Even if you can only lift hand weights on your sofa, it will still help you stay healthy, and it could help your mental state as well. If your emotional distress is making it difficult for you to return to your normal activities, talking to someone may help you manage your anxiety.


Develop Stronger Defensive Driving Skills

One way to help manage emotional distress after an accident is to improve your own defensive driving skills. You may be able to take a defensive driving course at your local community college which will provide you with additional safe driving tips and could also save you money on your car insurance.

Always wear a seatbelt and avoid any distractions while driving, like your cell phone. Never drive when you are tired, if you have been drinking or have taken medication that may impact your judgment.


Risk Factors in Developing Emotional Distress

There are certain risk factors that increase your chance of developing emotional issues after an accident. If you have suffered a prior traumatic event, such as a sexual assault, terrorist attack or were in a similar car accident in the past, you may be more likely to suffer mental trauma.

First responders are also more likely to develop emotional distress as are those who suffer from depression, anxiety or another mental issue. If the accident was serious enough your life was in danger or anyone else was injured, emotional distress may occur as well.

Even if you had no physical injuries in a car accident, you may be eligible for compensation for your emotional distress as well. Suing after a car accident when you were not hurt physically is possible, but you will need to speak to an attorney to learn what rights you may have.