The Impact Of Car Accidents On Mental Health

This post examines the ways in which auto accidents often damage the mental health of victims. It is bad enough that those involved in a crash must then deal with the pain and suffering of physical injuries and the expenses associated with medical bills and property losses. Many also find themselves experiencing significant mental health issues. These can derail careers, relationships, and overall ability to enjoy everything life has to offer. Which is why it is important to recognize the signs of mental health deterioration after an accident and address them with a mental health professional right away.

Common Mental Health Issues Experienced By Crash Survivors

Car accidents are disruptive events. They come out of nowhere and often leave victims with life-altering injuries. But even if you recover well from broken bones and the like, you might suffer mental health issues that can be harder to recover from quickly, if at all.

Some of the most common mental health conditions known to crop up after car accidents include the following:

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While most often associated with post-war veterans, this serious mental health issue can affect anyone who has survived a traumatic event. The symptoms of PTSD include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Intrusive thoughts and memories of the accident, both while awake or via nightmares
  • Fearfulness that leads you to avoid situations that remind you of the crash, such as passing the location where the accident occurred, driving, or even being a passenger in any vehicle again
  • Changes in cognition, such as difficulty remembering events that occurred before, during, and/or after the accident
  • Changes in mood regardless of appropriateness in a given situation, including sudden flashes of anger, grief, irritability or conversely numbness and dissociation
  • Hypervigilance that results in your being easily startled by loud noises or other sounds that remind you of the car accident and feeling constantly endangered

Note that these and related symptoms may not manifest immediately after the accident. Sometimes PTSD does not begin for weeks or even months following a crash—some even take years to show up. Typically, whenever the symptoms arise, suffering from them for a month or more once they begin indicates PTSD as a likely diagnosis.

Depression. Post-car accident depression may progress beyond temporary, situational feelings of loss, sadness, and loss of interest in life. Indications of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD, also known as clinical depression) often include the following:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, loneliness, or hollowness that cannot be relieved for long or at all
  • Loss of interest and enjoyment of activities, people, and other aspects of your life
  • Inability to concentrate on tasks
  • Difficulty thinking clearly or making decisions
  • Memory lapses
  • Ongoing feelings of self-loathing, guilt, and agitation
  • Lack of energy
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Suicidal ideation

This severe form of depression may morph into Persistent Depressive Disorder if left untreated, which is categorized as MDD that lasts for two or more years. Like PTSD, the symptoms of depression may take some time to develop after the actual accident.

Anxiety. There are multiple forms of anxiety disorder. Some of the most common likely to develop after an automobile accident include general anxiety, panic attacks, phobias related to cars and driving or seemingly unrelated, irrational fears. The physical and emotional indicators of an anxiety disorder usually include the following:

  • Constant tension
  • Being easily startled
  • Ongoing sensations of dread
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Constant state of vigilance and expectation of something awful happening
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Development of tics or tremors
  • Frequent headaches
  • Insomnia and other sleep disruptions
  • Feelings of fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, and increased frequency in urination

Because many symptoms of anxiety can be mistaken for physical concerns, the logical first step in getting a proper diagnosis is to consult with your primary care physician. Once possibilities like thyroid disease or cardiovascular concerns are ruled out, your doctor will likely refer you to a psychiatric professional for mental health evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.

Take Post-Accident Mental Health Symptoms Seriously

While you might be focused on treatment and recovering from significant physical injuries after a car crash, we strongly encourage you not to neglect signs of declining mental health. Some victims are fortunate enough to bounce back physically after an accident, but many do not realize the toll it has taken on them mentally and emotionally. The conditions described above and related mental health disorders may not go away so quickly and often require talk therapy, medications, and other treatments from qualified mental healthcare providers. Ignoring these conditions in the hope that they will just go away on their own could result in their becoming chronic and lifelong, potentially depriving you of the happiness you deserve in life.

Helping You Afford Mental Health Treatment After A Crash

We don’t just help you pursue coverage for medical bills stemming from physical injuries and loss of your car or other property following a car accident. We will pursue damages to cover the mental health treatment you need to recover and once again enjoy and engage in life. If someone caused a crash that left you with PTSD, depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, please contact Scott J. Corwin, A Professional Law Corporation. We will see to it that they pay for your pain and suffering for as long as it takes to recover to the fullest extent possible.

Contact our office today by calling (310) 683-2300 or filling out the online contact form to discuss the details of your case and learn more about how we can help you. We offer free consultations, so there’s no reason not to reach out to someone from our team right away.