May 2, 2019
When to Consider Therapy After a Car Accident
If you’ve been in a car accident, it’s likely you’ve received medical attention for physical injuries. While injuries like broken bones, bruises, and whiplash are often thought of as the main consequences of an auto wreck, not all injuries are visible. Car accident victims can suffer psychological effects and develop conditions related to their mental and emotional states. Often times, seeking therapy from a mental health professional can help someone reestablish order in their life.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, motor vehicle accidents are a common cause of traumatic stress. Crashes are shown to be the traumatic event most frequently experienced by males and the second most frequent event experienced by females. As a result, it’s estimated that over $100 billion are spent every year to take care of the damages caused by auto accidents.
If you’ve been in a vehicular collision and are struggling emotionally, you may not know where to turn or if therapy is for you. To better understand how you can recover fully, it will benefit you to understand the psychological effects of a car crash, know how to recognize the signs of a mental injury, and recognize how therapy can help.
The Signs of Symptoms of a Mental Injury
In the days and weeks after a car accident, it’s normal to experience shock, anger, sadness, confusion, and fear. As time passes, however, those feelings subside and become easier to manage. When they don’t get easier or they get worse, there could be a mental injury that needs to be addressed.
Anxiety and depression are the most common conditions for car accident victims to suffer from, especially if the person has been injured. The most common symptoms of emotional distress include:
- Mood swings
- Sleep issues and nightmares
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Bouts of anger
- Feeling of anguish
- Lack of focus
- Increased unease
Being traumatized from an accident can cause serious interruptions in everyday life. In some cases, a victim could suffer the psychological consequences for up to a year. A person suffering from a mental injury could have trouble waking up, going to work, and completing daily tasks. If the injury is completely debilitating, the person may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
It’s estimated that 9 percent of individuals who are in car accidents will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are a number of risk factors that make a person more susceptible to this condition, which includes:
- Previously experiencing a traumatic event
- Prior psychological difficulties
- A family history of psychological problems
- Losing someone in the accident
- The presence of dissociation during the trauma
- Whether the crash was life-threatening
- The initial emotional response
The symptoms of PTSD are worse than typical emotional distress. The disorder is separated into three main types of symptoms. The first is re-experiencing the crash. The person will have intrusive thoughts in the form of flashbacks or nightmares. The second symptom is related to avoidance. It’s likely a person suffering from PTSD after an accident will avoid the places, people, and activities that remind them of the accident. Finally, the person may experience increased arousal in the form of difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feeling jumpy, or being easily angered.
How Therapy Can Help
If you’re experiencing any of the signs of emotional trauma that we discussed above, you may benefit from participating in therapy. When you seek help from a mental health professional, you’ll undergo evaluations so the doctor can determine how the accident-related trauma is impacting your life. Depending on your diagnosis, a variety of treatments may be possible. Cognitive processing therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy may be viable options. In some instances, medication is the most effective form of treatment.
Regardless of the course of treatment your mental health professional recommends, therapy can put you on the path to getting your life back in order as quickly as possible so you can move forward without the distress.
If you’re trying to balance recovering physically and mentally while trying to pay for your medical bills, filing a personal injury claim can help you with your finances. In many situations, car accident victims can seek compensation for noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering or mental anguish. It can be harder to prove psychological trauma, especially on your own. But our lawyers can work to build a case that shows how you have suffered because of the accident. To learn about how we can help you receive full compensation for your crash, get in touch with our office today.