The physical side effects and symptoms of a car accident are usually pretty easy to identify. But sometimes the issues that lie beneath the surface are more serious. This is certainly the case with emotional trauma.
Emotional Trauma: Symptoms and Side Effects
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, it’s important to remain vigilant of all injuries, including emotional trauma and side effects that aren’t visible to the naked eye. Common symptoms of emotional trauma include:
- Intrusive thoughts and recurring nightmares.
- Dissociative symptoms (time slows down, you feel numb, or you see yourself from someone else’s perspective).
- Feelings of avoidance and/or a refusal to think about anything associated with the accident.
- Arousal symptoms, such as irritable behavior, trouble falling asleep, and issues concentrating.
- Physical manifestation of emotional issues, such as gastrointestinal issues, sweating, trembling, increased heart rate, and/or tense muscles.
In minor cases, these symptoms will subside within a few days. In serious cases, car accidents can lead to a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or acute stress disorder (ASD).
4 Tips for Recovery
Every car accident involves unique circumstances. However, the road to recovery is often very similar from victim to victim. Here are some of the recommended steps you should take in the coming weeks:
- Practice Rest and Self-Care
One of the worst things you can do after a car accident is immediately return to work and resume normal activities like nothing happened. (A lot of people think this is the right approach, but it could actually compromise your physical and emotional recovery from the very start.)
Rest is what you need. But don’t confuse rest with sleep. A better word for rest is self-care.
“When in distress or feeling anxious, it’s easy to neglect our basic needs such as getting enough sleep, eating balanced meals, implementing exercise into your schedule and staying social,” Anxiety and Depression Association of America explains.
By focusing on these rejuvenating activities, you give your mind time to process emotions and begin the path to recovery. If self-care doesn’t work, you may need to speak with a therapist to get some further guidance on how to proceed.
- Hire a Skilled Attorney
That sounds great, you’re thinking, but what about all of the other logistical issues and questions swirling around in your head?
Who will pay for my medical bills? Who will pay for my lost wages? Can I be compensated for my pain and suffering?
These are all questions that can be dealt with by hiring a skilled auto accident attorney. Let your lawyer do the work while you focus on getting better.
- Ease Back Into Things
Don’t rush back to work or pick up all of your responsibilities. Even after giving yourself some time to recover, it’s best to ease back into things. Consider returning to work on a part-time basis. Perhaps you need to drop a couple of social commitments. You might need a friend to help carpool your kids to school and activities. These are not signs of weakness – they’re practical solutions to a very real need.
- Get Back Behind the Wheel
At some point in your recovery process, you’ll need to get behind the wheel again. Doing so can be scary, but putting it off for too long could compound the fear and make it more difficult to return to driving again in the future.
If you find yourself nervous about driving, consider taking a defensive driving course.
“Sharpening your skills may help you feel more assured behind the wheel—plus being back in the car without anything bad happening can help decrease your anxiety,” Geico explains.
Begin with short, easy and undemanding trips. Then gradually move back to normal routes as you gain confidence.
You Are Not Alone
It’s easy to feel like you’re alone in a frustrating fight against an invisible force. However, it’s important to recognize that there are millions of other people around the world who have experienced or are experiencing very similar symptoms and feelings.
If you feel alone and depressed, it may be helpful to meet with a counselor or therapy. You may also find support groups in your area. Whatever you do, don’t isolate. There’s power in being surrounded by other people who understand what you’re going through.