Dealing with your emotions following a car accident

In most parts of a person’s daily routine, you can’t leave the house without coming in to contact with cars and traffic. Whether you are the driver or a passenger, on your way to work, on the way to school, to your favourite leisure activity or appointment, this form of transport is a big part of day to day life. With the rapid pace of life combined with more distractions than ever before, the chances of being involved in an accident continue to rise, and with a growing awareness of the emotional side-effects of trauma, it is important to make sure you are best prepared to cope in the unfortunate event of a car accident.

Different types of trauma

No one would leave the house and anticipate the possibility of being involved in a car accident – no matter the scale, no matter who is at fault, it is a traumatic experience that can leave you feeling in shock, with injuries to attend with depending on the severity of the crash some physically and more often emotionally.

After an accident has taken place you may not be aware it has happened – waking up in a state of shock with emergency services surrounding you. This can be unsettling and once you will begin to make sense of what is going on. If you have a serious injury you will be looked after by medics but can still be feeling shaky, nauseous and may be in significant pain.

Young woman feeling dizziness
Young woman feeling dizziness

It might not even hit you straight away, with the other parties of the accident involved needing to be liaised with, swapping details for insurance purposes, it might be in a later, quieter moment that a delayed shock might be prevalent and no one can tell how long this will last.

Once this has all set in, the legalities of a crash are then there waiting for you which can be stressful but the it’s the non-prevalent injuries that affect you emotionally and can stay with you for a lot longer. It might not even hit you straight away, with the other parties of the accident involved needing to be liaised with, swapping details for insurance purposes, it might be in a later, quieter moment that a delayed shock might be prevalent and no one can tell how long this will last.

There are many physical injuries that can come of a car accident that can leave you in recovery for months rather than weeks but more commonly in recent years it’s the emotional effects and anxiety that can change your life. It can be normal after an accident to replay the events with the placing of blame and the never ending thoughts playing back on your mind of the “what if’s?’ which will relay back to the reminder that ‘at least no one was seriously hurt’. This does little to ease the emotional stress and discomfort though, which if left untreated can also lead to depression, anxiety, sleep problems, lack of concentration and even jeopardize jobs and relationships.

For some these emotions can be for short periods, once injures are healing and day to day normalities see you back in your car starting your day. But for others, the experience can leave a lasting and troublesome mark.

Living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

One of the first and hardest steps with PTSD is being able to talk to someone. It can be hard to open up and share feelings but nobody can help if they do not know there is a problem. You may have trouble sleeping, feeling dizzy and panic attacks which without receiving help can become more concurrent. Friends and family will always be happy to be a first point of call but help can always be found from Doctors and professionals in this area if would prefer to be in a more private and professional atmosphere.

Trying to get back to normality and continuing with your daily routine will help reduce the  weight of anxiety, combined with taking positive steps such as a healthy lifestyle but this process will be different for everyone.

Awareness of PTSD

It is important to find help or if you know of someone who has been in an accident be aware of how they are feeling as if symptoms remain unknown or last longer than three months what was thought to be anxiety could become worse.  Post-traumatic stress disorder, known more commonly as PTSD is a mental condition which can cause more longer term and severe effects. The accident can start to take over your life, causing you to relive the accident recurrently in daily activities with these emotions being triggered by any signs or reminders of the accident. This can lead a person to become sheltered, refusing to partake in normal daily activities most commonly leaving the house, to travel or even be near a car and can lead to becoming recluse. If help is not received, this condition along with feelings of anxiety and depression in worst cases can lead to thoughts of suicide.

First steps in treating PTSD

If you think you have these symptoms it is important to talk up to someone. Being open with a friend or family member can give you the help and confidence you need to know you are  not alone. In these cases it would be most beneficial to make an appointment with you doctor who can advise if medication can help to treat PTSD and stress and also provide information on professionals trained to help in these matters such as a professional counselor. One of the most important things to remember is to give yourself time – some people believe it is best to get straight back into the saddle but you need to go at the pace you know is right for you, giving yourself the confidence to start getting back to your daily routine, returning to work and back to driving a car.

When claiming for a car accident at the fault of another party,  we automatically look for physical injuries which can be seen to the eye and more easily assessed by doctors but with more awareness it is now possible to make a claim for car accident compensation which takes into account the emotional impact the event has had on you.   

Emotional injuries can be harder to assess and if not treated properly, with enough time and the right care can lead to more life changing and on-going effects. It is important to keep a record of dates, any appointments made, time taken off work, any incurred expenses as well as any money lost due to being unable to work. Keeping all this information will lead to a less stressful and more successful claim, which can provide valuable funds to help support you and your family if you are unable to work or live your normal daily life as a direct result of your car accident.

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