Recovering from a Car Accident

Car AccidentCar accidents can take a toll on victims, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Being involved in or even witnessing a car crash can cause significant anxiety and emotional trauma for some people. In fact, up to 30 percent of accident victims have a negative psychological response, according to Lynda Matthews, Head of the Rehabilitation Counselling Unit at the University of Sydney.

The severity of the accident is no marker of how much a victim will be mentally affected. Even relatively minor accidents can lead to emotional issues. “It’s not so much the severity of the crash or the severity of any resulting injury that counts — it’s how someone perceives it. If you perceive the crash as life-threatening, or if someone is killed in the accident, then that can influence your response,” explains Matthews.

The good news is that most car accident victims fully recover. Shock, stress, and physical discomfort can make the aftermath seem like a blur, but if you prioritize taking care of yourself, you can speed up your recovery and reduce the chances of lingering long-term effects. Below, we share a few self-care ideas that accident victims may find helpful. 

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What are some ways to recover after a car accident? 

First, it is important to note that everyone recovers at different speeds and recovering from an accident and getting back to normal life can seem like a battle. Do not stress if you feel it is taking you too long to get past your accident.

Below are some simple, no-stress ways you can get your health back on track.

  • Rest. Taking it easy and resting is hard for go-getters, but try not to rush your recovery. Give your body the time it needs to heal.
  • Follow your doctor’s orders. Go to your appointments and follow-ups and stick to your treatment plan. If your symptoms worsen or you develop complications, call your doctor.
  • If anxiety about the accident is plaguing you, try some effective self-care methods such as breathing exercises, meditation, and visualization. Alternative treatments, e.g., acupuncture, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and biofeedback, may be useful, too. If the anxiety continues, speak to your doctor or mental health care provider about medication and other available treatments.
  • Keep your mind occupied while recovering so you do not focus on negative thoughts about the accident. Read a book, watch funny videos, chat with a friend, take up a hobby, play with your pet, or otherwise engage yourself to give your mind a break from the stress of the accident.
  • Talk to a friend. Sometimes, just talking about what is weighing on you can help alleviate the burden. Call up a trusted friend, family member, or clergy member if you feel like talking about it and accept the comfort s/he offers.

When should I seek help for my psychological symptoms? 

If your anxiety, depression, or other emotional issues have not improved after a month or two, seek professional help. It may be a sign that you are developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Talk to your doctor if you notice any of the following common symptoms of PTSD:

  • Avoiding cars or other reminders of the accident
  • Recurrent flashbacks about the accident
  • Nightmares or sleep disturbances
  • Changes in personality, e.g., angry outbursts, crankiness, pessimism

“These kinds of reactions are normal and to be expected in the [short-term] aftermath of whatever has happened. I don’t think people should run to a psychiatrist or psychologist a week or two after,” Alan Steinberg, PhD. and director of research at the UCLA Trauma Psychiatry Program says on WebMD. “But if they start to become persistent, that’s a sign that they may become [long-term] and can become very debilitating.”

Without proper treatment, long-term stress can affect your job, marriage, relationships, sleep, emotional health, and quality of life. It can also impair your immune system and hinder the healing of your physical injuries. Ask your physician for referrals to counselors in your area or check local listings on Psychology Today.

Can I recover damages for the emotional effects of my car accident?

Financial stress often exacerbates anxiety after a car accident. Medical bills, mental health care costs, taking a leave of absence from work to recover, and short- or long-term disability can weigh heavily on you. Fortunately, you may be able to recover damages for most of your losses after an accident. This includes monetary as well as emotional losses.

To find out if you qualify to file a liability claim for financial recovery, call our car accident lawyer in Lake Charles at Hoffoss Devall. We can review your case with you, explain the legal options for compensation you may have available, and then help you take action to recover your losses. Call our office today at 337-433-2053 to schedule a free consultation.

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