While roadways have become much safer over the years, car accidents are still incredibly common. And in addition to causing physical injuries, a collision can also inflict psychological trauma on the people involved. Knowing how to deal with the emotional aspect can ensure you reach a full recovery.
5 Tips for Proper Emotional Healing
The physical injuries resulting from a car accident are usually pretty easy to diagnose. Cuts, scrapes, broken bones, and bruising are identifiable. What’s not so easy to spot is the psychological trauma that develops in the days after a collision. And whereas a bruise or sprain will heal with time, the emotional wreckage has to be dealt with in a head-on manner.
“According to some national estimates, around nine percent of those who survive a car accident eventually develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” FindLaw explains. “This is significant considering that it doesn’t even account for other medical conditions that can arise after a crash such as depression, anxiety or any number of phobias.”
In order to protect yourself after an accident, here are some simple, smart steps you can take:
- Get Some Help
“The period following a car crash is often very stressful,” The Jeffcoat Firm admits. “There are many questions that need answers ― some as basic as what your family is going to do for transportation if your car is totaled. Insurance companies will want to hear from you about the circumstances of the accident and the extent of your injuries to determine who is at fault. Your answers to these questions can have important legal implications.”
In the midst of recovering, you shouldn’t have to spend your time worrying about answers to questions like these. If you feel like you need a lawyer, hire a car accident attorney to handle the details of your case. Otherwise, let a spouse, family member, or close friend help you deal with all of the logistical issues that stem from your situation.
- Know the Symptoms
Most people don’t immediately recognize they’re dealing with emotional trauma in the wake of a car accident. To correctly diagnose your situation, be on the lookout for symptoms like:
- Sleep loss or disturbances
- Weight fluctuations
- Compulsive and/or obsessive behaviors
- Social withdrawal
- Chronic fatigue
- Moodiness and/or irritability
“These symptoms should naturally subside over time, but keep an eye on them,” advises Matthew Tull, PhD. “If you notice they’re getting more severe and/or more frequent, if you’re avoiding more situations or the symptoms are beginning to interfere with your life, then you may be at risk for developing PTSD. If that happens, please seek some help.”
- Talk Through Your Fears
If you have fears tied to the accident, it’s best to be open and honest with people. As you bottle these ideas up, they begin to fester and grow. Letting others in on what you’re going through will change your perspective and help you see some of the flaws in your thinking. You may even find it helpful to speak with a therapist.
- Ease Back Into Things
It’s best if you ease back into driving. This is especially true if you were behind the wheel in the accident. Take a few days off, but don’t spend too much time away. If you’re hesitant to drive again, try taking a slow cruise through a neighborhood or empty parking lot, then move on to a quiet street. From there you can try busier roads and interstates as you feel comfortable.
- Take a Defensive Driving Course
If you were the victim in a car accident, you might find it empowering to take a defensive driving course. These courses teach you how to be more aware of your surroundings and how to respond in situations so that you reduce your risk of being involved in an accident. You may even get a discount on your insurance for taking one of these courses.
Adding it All Up
Time is the ultimate healing agent, but you shouldn’t sit back and leave your emotional trauma untended. By taking a proactive approach to both your physical and mental recovery, you can leave the accident in the past and return to normal as soon as possible.