When an unexpecting driver is in a serious collision, the first matter to deal with is their physical injuries. While emergency medical services will ensure they get the care and treatment they need, there are other matters that will need to be addressed. Many people don’t realize the emotional toll a car accident can take. Crash victims often have a hard time readjusting to life after the crash, especially if they sustained serious injuries or the crash resulted in the death of a loved one.
If you find yourself dealing with the ramifications of an auto accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s important to understand how to reduce your stress. This will allow you to focus on what matters and move forward.
Understanding the Psychological Consequences of a Car Accident
Immediately following a crash, adrenaline will still be coursing through the bodies of those involved. A person may experience heightened senses and feel jittery or nervous. As the event passes and the body calms down, many people begin to feel like themselves again. A percentage of car accident victims, however, develop symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD sufferers experience symptoms in four categories. They will relive the event, avoid situations that remind them of the accident, experience negative changes in feelings or beliefs, and be hyper-aroused. Previous traumatic experiences, age, and gender can affect whether or not a person will develop PTSD.
When someone re-experiences their accident, they may have nightmares, flashbacks, or be triggered by sights, sounds or smells. To avoid thinking about the crash, they might avoid driving or being in vehicles altogether. As far as negative feelings go, victims may become depressed or feel as though they’re in danger. Hyperarousal is when someone is always on the lookout for danger. The person may also be easily angered or irritated.
Even if someone is not suffering from diagnosable PTSD, the stress a car accident can be overwhelming. In addition to worrying about physical injuries and the vehicular damage, issues with financial insecurity and time off work may arise.
Many individuals are able to cope with and reduce stress after a crash by talking with their loved ones, staying active, getting back into daily activities and routines, and learning to be a defensive driver. It might also help to visit the site where the incident happened regularly. When actions like that do not work, seeking help from a mental health professional could help.
How Counseling and Therapy Can Help
There are a number of effective treatments for dealing with stress after a car accident. Even if a person is only dealing with mild to moderate stress, seeking help from a mental health professional can help them get back on track faster. The following are common forms of therapy car accident victims might undergo:
- Exposure Therapy. This type of therapy is intended to help a person face and gain control of the event or fear that distresses them. With a car accident, a person might look at pictures from their accident or be asked to recount the event in as much detail as possible.
- Cognitive Therapy. With this therapy, a person is given homework assignments that can help them change the way they think and feel in the moment. It is considered action-oriented and practical. It is an effective way to deal with car accidents because it can help people deal with stress as it comes.
- Behavior Therapy. There are a number of behavior therapies, which include cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral play therapy, system desensitization, and aversion therapy. For a car accident, cognitive behavioral therapy is most often used. The treatment is centered around how the person’s thoughts and beliefs, which can change after a crash, influence their actions and moods.
- Medication. If a person is experiencing high levels of stress after an accident that are affecting their ability to eat, sleep, or perform daily activities, a doctor could put them on a short-term medication to help them cope with the symptoms they’re experiencing.
The Benefits of Taking Legal Action
Taking legal action can help you cope with an accident in more ways than just monetary. Part of moving on might include holding the negligent party accountable for their actions and ensuring they won’t make the same mistake and hurt someone else again.
If you’re looking for legal representation you can trust, reach out to DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC. We’ll evaluate your situation and help you determine how to proceed. While adding litigation to the mix when dealing with the consequences of a car accident can be overwhelming at first, we’ll handle all the difficult negotiations and paperwork for you, so you have the time you need to heal physically and emotionally. For a free case evaluation, contact our office today.