Coping With Your Emotions After a Motor Vehicle Collision

If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle collision, you need to seek medical attention immediately. Medical providers can properly examine you to figure out the extent of your injuries and what treatment plan best fits your medical condition under the circumstances. If you continue to experience pain and other medical issues following the treatments, your medical provider will need to refer you to other providers that specialize in diagnosing and treating your injuries accordingly.

After you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle collision, there are several factors involved in managing your injuries and resulting damages. An experienced personal injury attorney can assist in managing your claim, regardless of whether you immediately felt injured or noticed your symptoms and injuries days or weeks after the collision. Our law firm has been assisting injured victims of motor vehicle collisions for nearly 25 years, and our team of attorneys and case managers are here to help. If a motor vehicle collision has disrupted your life or the life of a family member, do not wait any longer to get the legal help you need.

Each individual responds differently when they are involved in a motor vehicle collision. Shock, denial, and adrenaline rush often occur right after a traumatic and overwhelming event. A person may seem to suffer no ill effects immediately after a collision, while others suffer intense physical and emotional injuries.

Post-collision shock and trauma symptoms may include:

  • Unpredictable emotions
  • Increased interpersonal conflict
  • Flashbacks
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep changes
  • Nightmares
  • Sensitivity to certain noises or smells
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Anxiety
  • Isolation

It is also possible to experience delayed emotional shock and trauma that may affect you days or even weeks later.

Recovering Emotionally After a Traumatic Collision

Trying to understand your emotions and responses to what happened after your motor vehicle collision is one of the first steps to coping with your emotions and feelings. Although most individuals are resilient, stress and fear are normal reactions after a collision. These emotions inhibit victims after a motor vehicle collision to move on and resume their daily lives.

There are practices you can implement to increase your well-being and regain a sense of control over your life after a motor vehicle collision. These practices include:

  • Allowing yourself time to adjust and reflect on your losses.
  • Seeking support from people who care about you and are willing to listen.
  • Expressing your feelings via talking aloud or using another creative outlet like art or writing.
  • Eating balanced meals and getting plenty of rest to cope with the stress.
  • Engaging in healthy routines such as eating regular nutritious meals, exercising, or working on a hobby.
  • Avoiding making major life decisions immediately afterward and allowing yourself time to heal.

The American Psychological Association provides a handy resource for building your resilience after a traumatic event. Even after weeks or months, painful memories and emotions may pop up from time to time. The area where the collision occurred, especially if it’s an intersection or road you frequently drive down, will constantly remind you of the traumatic experience. Feelings of guilt may overcome you, and you may find yourself constantly replaying the collision in your mind. Unfortunately, these reactions are very normal, but prolonged reactions my trigger long-term anxiety or stress. Seeking professional help is sometimes needed in these situations.

Dealing With Persistent Feelings of Distress

In rare cases, an auto accident can leave a person feeling hopeless and distressed whenever they get into a car and try to drive again. If you suffered permanent or debilitating injuries after the crash, these can also contribute to feelings of loss and depression. Being unable to move on from psychological trauma is considered a sign of acute stress or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can occur after a motor vehicle collision, and if this is the case, you should consult a licensed mental health professional for help moving forward from your trauma. This reaction can occur no matter how minor the collision seemed. Even minor collisions can potentially trigger prolonged emotional distress or an ongoing general feeling of uneasiness. Other risk factors for post-traumatic stress include:

  • Prior traumatic experiences such as a natural disaster, rape, assault, or previous car wreck.
  • Being a first responder.
  • Suffering from an underlying disorder like depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.
  • If the car accident was life-threatening.
  • If someone was grievously injured or killed in the crash.
  • Lack of support after the wreck.

Trauma Recovery Tips After an Auto Accident

Emotional shock and trauma can freeze the body into a state of constant hyperarousal and fear. This reaction makes people want to withdraw, lash out, or avoid confronting unpleasant feelings. The following can help ease the unpleasant feelings:

  1. Move around. If you are able to, exercise and move around 30 minutes or more most days. Engaging your body helps focus your thoughts and be mindful of the present.
  2. Connect with others. Isolation will only prolong your suffering. Face-to-face interactions, social activities, and support can help you feel normal. You don’t have to talk about your traumatic experience either, especially if doing so makes you feel worse.
  3. Ground your nervous system. Even though you may feel anxious or agitated, you can still calm yourself. Breathing exercises, specific smells or sights, or petting an animal can help. Acknowledge your feelings and accept them rather than avoiding them.
  4. Take care of yourself. A life-threatening event can disturb your routine and peace of mind. Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night, eat a well-balanced diet, and engage in yoga or other fun hobbies. Talk to your family doctor and see if they can refer you to someone to assist you in these endeavors.
  5. Seek professional therapy for trauma. Everyone heals at their own pace, but if your symptoms persist, it may be time to talk to a trauma expert. Look for a reputable therapist if you are:
  • Having trouble functioning at work or home.
  • Suffering severe anxiety, depression, or fear.
  • Experiencing nightmares or flashbacks.
  • Avoiding anything that reminds you of the trauma.
  • Becoming emotionally numb.
  • Trying to escape by using alcohol or drugs.

Getting Professional Treatment

Working through trauma can be difficult. You will have to resolve unpleasant feelings and memories, let go of the “fight or flight” response pent-up inside, and learn how to regulate your emotions. There are a variety of practices a trauma specialist can help you work through your emotional shock. These practices include somatic experiencing, cognitive behavioral therapy, and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

Helping Children Recover After a Crash

Oftentimes, our law firm receives calls from parents whose children were in the vehicle with them at the time of the crash. The kids may be inconsolable, especially when the child or persons close to them were injured. Emotional or psychological trauma after a collision can manifest in children in the following ways:

  • Regression - A young child may wet the bed, want a bottle, or be scared of being left alone. Be patient and comfort them when they respond in these ways.
  • Blaming themself for what happened - Young children especially may think the wreck was their fault. Maybe they were yelling or fighting with another sibling when the accident happened. It’s important they understand that they aren’t the cause of the event.
  • Sleep problems - Like adults, some children may have trouble falling asleep, waking up frequently, or have bad dreams. Stuffed animals, extra time together in the evenings, and patience can help them sleep soundly again.

Emotional Suffering and PTSD Compensation After a Car Accident

Motor vehicle collisions are traumatic and terrifying events. The sound and feel of metal crunching into metal, glass shattering, and the force of the airbag and the crash are unforgettable, and the event is compounded when you suffer physical and mental injuries. Our law firm is very familiar with physical and emotional injuries suffered after a motor vehicle collision. The psychological effects, shock, and PTSD can stay with the victim long after your physical injuries have healed. Our law firm and team of case managers and attorneys will present your physical and emotional injuries to the negligent third party in the most effective way to get you maximum compensation.