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Car accidents can be traumatic. If you have ever been involved in one, or even witnessed one, you will know just how confronting they can be. In this blog we are going to talk about the unseen after-effects of car accidents.

Because after all, while Murphy’s Law is involved in helping you to recover financially and personally from the injuries you may suffer in a car accident, there are often lingering psychological effects that can follow on from a car accident. 

Read on to find out more about what you can expect following a car accident, and to find out some information on how to move past car accident-related trauma. 

Why are car accidents so confronting?

Cars are a common method of transport. We travel in cars regularly and are around cars and road traffic constantly. While the threat of being involved in an accident is ever-present, the fact is that car accidents are relatively uncommon when you compare the rate of incidence (156.5 people hospitalised due to road accidents per 100,000 people) with how regularly you travel in cars. However, when car accidents do occur they are shocking and unexpected. 

One of the factors which may be most confronting about car accidents is that you are sitting in the car, enjoying a conversation or listening to music in one moment, and being violently struck or shunted the next moment. The sheer unexpectedness, and the shock, of your accident is part of what makes it so confronting. 

Another factor might be the fact that it all seems a bit unreal - while you might drive past a car accident or see footage on the news and feel empathy for the people involved, when it is happening to you it’s something else entirely.

What to expect following a car accident

When you are involved in a car accident, it is common to experience physical effects such as whiplash and physical injury. However, along with the physical injuries, you may experience other side effects which are psychological.

Lady suffering trauma after car accident

Development of trauma

As human creatures, we are psychologically conditioned to avoid situations that are perceived to be harmful or dangerous. As part of this avoidance conditioning, when we are exposed to harmful situations, we sometimes develop an aversion response to help us to avoid similarly harmful situations in the future. A car accident is, arguably, one of these potentially harmful situations.

  • As a result of a car accident, it is relatively common to develop some psychological symptoms associated with the crash. 
  • It is perfectly normal, for example, to have an aversion to being in cars for a period of time after a car accident. 
  • It is also very normal to be startled when someone swerves closely to you, when a driver brakes suddenly, or when anything unexpected happens that reminds you of your accident.
  • These kinds of responses are all fears which are naturally linked to your previous accident, and is your mind’s way of telling you to watch out.

It is when your symptoms following an accident begin to interfere with your life or cause you difficulty, that you may wish to consider seeking help for your mental health and recovery. 

Development of PTSD

In some cases, and for some people, a car accident can have lasting and troubling side effects. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can present itself after a car accident and is characterised by:

  • Reliving the traumatic event through flashbacks and nightmares
  • Being anxious, irritable, being easily startled and/or having trouble sleeping
  • Avoiding anything that reminds you of the event
  • Feeling numb or cut off 

If you have been in a car accident and have developed symptoms that have you feeling unlike yourself, you may wish to seek help from your doctor. Your doctor can recommend some help and try to find the appropriate avenue for you to get the support you need to move through this difficult time and recover.

Getting back on track

One of the key things you need to do if you have been in a car accident which has left you feeling shaken, scared, or anxious, is to take things slowly. Your recovery is going to take some time, and it is important that you move at a pace that is comfortable to you. 

This is your personal journey, and you need to treat yourself kindly. You have been through something incredibly difficult and traumatic, and the last thing you need to do is expect that you can just shake it off. You have been affected by this incident, and you will recover in your own time. 

If you have developed symptoms which may be identified as PTSD, anxiety, or depression following a car accident then you should call us to find out if you can claim some financial compensation for any time off work or loss of income due to your accident. After all, if the accident was not your fault you should not have to suffer without support. We are here to help you get back on track. 

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