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Dealing with Emotional Trauma after a Car Accident

Suffering due to automobile accidents isn’t just physical. The emotional distress experienced by victims cannot and should not be ignored. Yet far too many of us brush off the symptoms of emotional trauma as something we just have to “get over” and discount how they can seriously impact our relationships, job performance, and enjoyment of daily life. Just as you should seek medical help for any physical injury after a crash, you should see a mental health professional for evaluation, and if needed treatment, for your emotional injuries.

Misunderstanding the effects of trauma

Trauma is defined as an “emotional response to a terrible event like an accident.” The following represent the typical stages of trauma following such an occurrence:

  1. Shock
  2. Denial of the extent that the accident has affected you
  3. Uncontrollable and unpredictable emotional flareups
  4. Flashbacks to and nightmares about the accident
  5. Negative interactions with others, including loved ones
  6. Headaches, insomnia, upset stomach, and other physical symptoms

Note that anyone involved in the car crash is at risk of emotional distress and trauma, not just the driver. Your feelings are just as real and valid if you were a passenger or even a witness.

Don’t ignore emotional fallout post-accident

During the first two stages, you might insist you either didn’t sustain any lasting emotional trauma or that anything you’re feeling will just fade away over time. After all, no one died in your accident, your physical injuries are healing, and you’re going to replace your car. Once all of that is accomplished, you’ll feel fine again, right?

Unfortunately, that isn’t how human emotions work. They cannot be reasoned with or rationalized into going away. If you choose to ignore them, much like cancer or other diseases, they not only don’t magically disappear, but they can worsen significantly. What might start out as situational depression, anxiety, stress, and fearfulness can transform into clinical depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), manifestation of phobias (e.g. agoraphobia or fear of leaving the house), or suicidal ideation. These can affect your daily life by making you snap at your spouse and children, become dependent on others for transportation due to fear of another crash, distract you at work until your performance declines, and worse. And while family, friends, and employers might be understanding and sympathetic initially, over time they will likely lose their patience with your unpredictability, emotional outbursts, and erratic behavior.

So what can you do? Speak to a mental health professional as soon after your accident as you can, even if you think you’re fine. Let them evaluate your emotional health just as you had your physician diagnose your physical condition. Talk to them about what you can do to improve any emotional distress you’re feeling through diet, exercise, rest, and other self-care options. Arrange for regular counseling sessions if advised to do so. Follow any additional suggestions and take any medications prescribed to help control serious or worsening negative emotions before they can devolve into chronic condition or disrupt your life long-term.

Los Angeles car accident lawyer

Many people avoid seeking help from a mental health professional because of the cost. Fortunately, your Los Angeles auto accident attorney Scott J. Corwin can pursue claims for emotional distress, psychological trauma, loss of ability to enjoy life, and more. So get the treatment you need and call Scott to get the recompense you deserve at 800-946-9440.

Woman in driver seat stressed holding her head