On average, there are over 6 million car crashes every year in the US. Whether you experience a minor car crash or a significant one, you need to be aware of the lasting impact it can have. Even if you have no physical car injury, you may experience psychological effects.
13 to 21 percent of car accident survivors have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD causes you to relive the traumatic event experienced in different ways. Traumatic events can include car accidents, combat, or natural disasters.
The good news is that you are not alone. PTSD, and other mental effects of car crashes, are treatable. If you recognize warning signs, you will be able to seek help sooner.
This guide covers some of the main psychological effects you should know.
It is natural to want a break from something associated with the traumatic event. But if you find yourself avoiding driving or going in cars, you could have a phobia. Some people also avoid the people they were in the car crash with, leading to isolation.
Detachment and Dissociation
To avoid association with the car crash, you can become detached. It is better to tell people you do not want to discuss the collision than isolate yourself from everyone. When you isolate, you might feel numb, or emotionally you blunted.
Dissociation makes you feel disconnected from yourself and the events around you. You might have memory loss or feel like you are in a dream.
Low Mood and Anxiety
The stress does not end at the car crash event. Sometimes the other parties cause issues, such as the other person being uninsured. This can cause a lot of anxiety and rumination about the event.
Seek advice from a car accident lawyer to learn what to do, and prevent more stress after the car accident.
Hypervigilance and Hypersensitivity
You may find yourself on high alert, scanning for warning signs. Or you may feel extremely sensitive to sounds and other senses. You may have trouble sleeping as you cannot switch off.
People can also have emotional outbursts or act unpredictably. And sometimes, they engage in self-destructive behavior, such as drinking, to manage.
After car crashes, people can experience flashbacks of the event or nightmares. Anxiety intrusive thoughts include ruminating on bad things happening near or in cars. You usually cannot control the thoughts, and they have different triggers.
Get Help After Car Crashes
If you have any mental health difficulties after a car crash, see a medical professional. It does not matter how severe the car crash is. Car crashes can cause trauma that needs to be treated.
It is natural to feel low in mood or want a break from driving initially. But if your symptoms are getting in the way of your everyday life, are getting worse, or last a long time, see someone.
A car accident lawyer can help with the legalities of car crashes. They also may advise psychological support.
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