In the United States alone, there is an annual average of 6 million car accidents. Furthermore, around 2 million drivers experience permanent injuries due to car accidents each year.
There’s no doubt that these collisions can be frightening and overwhelming. A bad car accident can impact your mental, physical, and financial state. However, there are several strategies to help move you to a speedier recovery.
Let’s get to what you need to know!
Most people report a variety of intense emotions immediately after the accident. Know that these emotions are normal and expected.
You may experience shock. Often, this is your body (and mind) protecting you from the serious magnitude of what just happened. Once the shock fades, you might start feeling a mixture of fear, anger, sadness, guilt, and disbelief.
It’s normal to experience fear and anxiety after an accident. These emotions can arise regardless of who was at fault for the collision. You may experience a chronic sense of worry, aversion to driving, or difficulty concentrating and focusing.
These symptoms should pass within a few weeks. If they don’t, however, it’s essential to seek out support. A licensed therapist can provide you with support and coping skills to manage your fear.
Anger is a common reaction to car accidents, especially if the other driver was at fault. If you were a passenger, you might feel angry towards your driver for getting into the crash.
It’s easy to project this anger onto other people (or onto yourself). However, it’s essential to learn how to manage that anger through positive coping skills and breathing strategies.
Managing Guilt and Shame
Guilt and shame can go hand-in-hand with car accidents. You may be finding yourself in a constant state of what-ifs or could-have-been immediately after the incident.
These feelings are normal. However, it’s vital that you aim to practice having realistic expectations of yourself and others. Even with the most defensive driving, mistakes can and do happen.
Understanding Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can result from debilitating or terrifying car accidents.
Common symptoms include:
- recurrent, distressing memories of the event
- continuous dreams or nightmares about the event
- avoiding people, places, or things that remind you of the event
- a sense of hopelessness about the future
- negative thoughts about yourself or others
- feeling emotionally numb
- experiencing detachment from loved ones and pleasurable activities
- trouble sleeping
- feeling hypervigilant or “on guard”
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should consult with your primary care physician or a therapist. Mental illness is not your fault, and treatment is available.
Car accidents can trigger any combination of physical symptoms due to the collision. Some people don’t experience any symptoms, but even mild ones should be taken seriously.
Neck, Shoulder, or Back Pain
Pain in this area could indicate whiplash, spinal injuries, bone fractures, or other ligament injuries. The pain may be immediate, but it may also be delayed.
Headaches can indicate a variety of issues ranging from concussions to whiplash to brain injuries and blood clots. Even a mild headache should yield an immediate red flag to seek medical attention.
Cuts and Burns
Car accidents can result in skin injuries as a result of cuts and burns. When untreated, these injuries can result in life-threatening infections and also permanent scarring.
Exacerbated Pain (From Other Injuries)
If you were previously injured, a car accident can exacerbate and reinjure the same muscle or joint. If you recently had surgery, the lack of appropriate recovery time can create ongoing complications.
That’s why it’s so critical to consult with your physician if you are in an accident after a previous injury. Check out this blog to learn more.
Car accidents can cause tremendous mechanical and cosmetic damage to the vehicle. Even mild crashes can deplete your car’s value due to the incident being reported on its record.
Healthcare costs are one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in the United States. Medical treatment can cost tens of thousands of dollars, especially if the person requires intensive care.
While one cannot offset costs completely, it’s essential to prepare for the worst. Make sure that you and your family are covered by comprehensive health insurance.
Car accidents may result in short or long-term emotional and physical disabilities. These disabilities can impact workplace performance and functioning- which can result in a loss of income.
Furthermore, some people may need to undergo serious lifestyle changes. For example, the loss of a limb can result in needing to make home adaptions. A brain injury may require extensive therapy and medical attention.
Accidents can spike up your insurance premiums. Insurance companies take many variables into consideration in creating your policy. Any issues on your record will result in you spending more money on coverage.
You should always comparison-shop when considering insurance. Just because you’ve been loyal to one company doesn’t guarantee that they have the best rates.
Furthermore, as a general rule of thumb, you should take your driving even more seriously after an accident. That means focusing on defensive driving, avoiding distractions as much as possible, and complying with local driving rules.
Final Thoughts on Recovering From a Bad Car Accident
The recovery from a bad car accident can feel overwhelming and frightening. Be kind to yourself and your loved ones during this process. You will get through this!
Are you struggling to find joy and meaning after your accident? Are you feeling hopeless or lost or just downright frustrated?
When it comes to your healing, having a positive mindset can make the process significantly more bearable. Check out this article on building 21 habits towards happiness.