When car accidents occur, those who experience injuries may not realize how this type of incident can also affect their long-term mental health. The trauma of a car accident, especially severe ones, may leave victims with psychological issues that linger long after their physical injuries heal.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes that drivers, passengers and even witnesses can develop mental health issues in the wake of a car accident, and those affected may want to remain aware of several signs that may indicate a problem.
1. Sleep disruption
Some car crash victims may find their sleep patterns seriously disrupted in the aftermath of the incident. Drivers may develop racing thoughts after they lie down to sleep, going over the accident repeatedly in their minds and wondering constantly if they could have done something to prevent the wreck. Others may have nightmares about the accident, which can have a negative impact on regular sleep schedules.
2. Fear of driving
After a car accident, even the most confident of drivers can develop fear and anxiety when it comes to getting back behind the wheel. They may feel unsure of their driving abilities or avoid the area or road where the accident occurred. Some drivers may not want to get back into a vehicle at all, especially if the crash caused them or any loved ones serious injuries.
Some car accident victims may develop post-traumatic stress disorder, which includes flashing back to the incident often and unexpectedly. They may experience certain new triggers, including passing an accident scene on the highway or seeing a crash on television or in a movie. These flashbacks can disrupt an individual’s quality of life if he or she fails to seek treatment.
Emotional and mental trauma resulting from a car accident can develop unexpectedly and linger for years. Practicing self-care and talking to a mental health professional may offer relief to those affected.