Mental Health After an Accident
We can miss the signs of a mental health problem all too easily. It’s natural to tell ourselves that we’re just “stressed,” that this is all temporary, and that things will be back to normal soon. We’re even more likely to dismiss possible issues when we’re already dealing with a major event like a car accident or catastrophic sports injury. Car accidents are unsettling regardless. Even a minor fender bender can be enough to spike the blood pressure.
Your mental health after a major accident
With any major accident, we’re more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other unpleasant symptoms.
It’s important to be aware of what’s normal and what might signal the need for a few sessions with a therapist.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Like many mental health conditions, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is poorly understood. It’s not uncommon for people to think it can only happen to someone who has seen the very worst of human existence, like a soldier who has fought in a war or a child who has been kidnapped.
However, you don’t have to go through anything particularly dangerous to develop PTSD. Something like the sudden death of a family member can be enough to trigger it. It generally shows up pretty quickly after the event, but it can also arise several years later. Symptoms are grouped into categories like “re-avoiding symptoms” and “avoidance symptoms.”
The former category includes flashbacks and bad dreams, while the latter category includes staying away from experiences, events, and even objects that may remind you of what happened.
For example, a driver who gets into a serious car accident on the freeway may very well avoid driving on the freeway for as long as possible afterward.
In some cases, calling your insurance company or talking to a collision repair business can be enough to make you very anxious.
Or if you’ve injured yourself at the gym, that might be enough to keep you away for good.
How to move on
PTSD symptoms can vary wildly in intensity. It’s possible to feel fine for a week, then wake up in the middle of the night overwhelmed by memories of the traumatic incident.
Someone who feels like they’re having trouble getting their life back under control should call a doctor or mental health professional. Disturbing thoughts that linger for more than a month are also an indication that you would benefit from help, and anyone who is having suicidal thoughts needs to reach out immediately for assistance.
Depending on the specifics of the accident, you may also have some legal recourse. If the driver of the other vehicle was behaving in a way that was reckless or negligent, you may be able to contact an expert like this accident attorney in Allentown, PA, about filing a personal injury suit. For some people, getting relief in court can serve as a reminder that this wasn’t their fault and they deserve to find healing. However, other people won’t be as eager to go to court and risk reliving the accident all over again.
It’s often worth at least getting a free initial consultation with a lawyer, but if that doesn’t pan out, you can find other ways to get back on your feet.
The more severe your injuries and for many sports-related injuries, the more likely it is that you spent significant time in a hospital. It’s also possible that you received physical therapy.
Allied health degree programs can help you take what those highly qualified medical professionals gave you and pay it forward. You can’t change the past, but caring for other people in need is a great way to try and change the future.
No matter the cause of your injury, you can get past it and live a healthy life going forward!