Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) state that over 6 million police-reported traffic collisions occurred in 2021 in the United States. Those involved in these incidents often seek immediate medical assistance for their physical ailments but may overlook how the collision affects their mental well-being and can cause common conditions like depression and anxiety. Read about overcoming anxiety after a car accident, and call (573) 341-8336 to learn how an experienced car accident attorney with Steelman Gaunt Crowley can help victims of such incidents.
Why Do People Get Anxiety After a Car Accident?
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), many car accident victims experience some form of emotional distress. They may suffer from increased stress, depression, sleep issues, recurring nightmares concerning the collision, or anxiety. These symptoms can lead the individual to avoid doing certain activities out of fear of again becoming a car accident victim, such as not going to social events, school, work, or other appointments.
What Are the Emotional Stages After a Car Accident?
Car accident victims often encounter different emotions, including disbelief, shock, anger, and sadness. Below are the details concerning the various emotional stages experienced by those involved in vehicle accidents.
- Denial. The initial stage typically results in the person feeling shocked and struggling to believe what happened to them. Here, it is crucial to accept that the event took place.
- Anger. Alongside anger, car accident victims may feel resentment and frustration during this time. If an individual harbors these emotions rather than expressing them in a healthy manner, such as by attending therapy sessions, this can lead to anxiety or depression.
- Bargaining. This refers to when the victim begins to question what happened and consider how to reverse the damage caused. For instance, the individual might start to blame themselves for the incident or wish it had never occurred.
- Depression. The depression period often involves encountering feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. At this stage, car accident victims might find it challenging to complete basic daily chores. If experiencing extreme depression symptoms and suicidal thoughts, seek immediate professional help.
- Acceptance. This stage entails car accident victims accepting what happened to them and beginning to move forward with their lives. During this period, individuals may still experience sadness or anger, but they can generally perform daily activities.
How Do I Get Over My Car Accident Anxiety?
The following tips can help individuals recover from anxiety after being involved in a vehicle-related incident.
Reflect on What Happened
Remembering how the incident unfolded can help a person recover from anxiety after a vehicle accident. This is because it enables the individual to confront the trauma and effectively manage his or her emotions. When trying this, the recommended approach is to repeatedly complete this exercise until the person no longer finds remembering the incident to be upsetting.
Find out more about overcoming anxiety after a car accident and learn how a Missouri car accident attorney can help victims of these incidents by arranging a consultation with Steelman Gaunt Crowley.
Talk to Others
Discussing the incident with family members and close friends can reduce anxiety and fear by removing unhelpful thoughts from a person’s mind. This approach is most effective in highlighting the fact that the victim survived the accident and is no longer in danger.
Bring Another Driver
Getting back behind the wheel is an important step toward recovering from post-accident anxiety, and bringing an additional driver for the first journey afterward can help a victim feel safer and less overwhelmed. The individual can then either take the next journey solo or keep inviting another motorist to join until he or she is confident enough to drive alone.
Start with Simple Journeys
Think about easing back into driving by initially taking on simple, short drives. Then, the driver can gradually increase the length and complexity of the journeys until he or she has regained confidence.
Avoid Contributing to the Anxiety
Some car accident victims avoid the site of the incident, but this can actually prolong the anxiety. A more effective response is to try to behave normally when operating a vehicle, such as by keeping to the same routes and driving at the same speed (so long as it is safe and does not exceed the speed limit). If this approach does not work, consider cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Enroll in a Driving Course
Doing this can help individuals practice their skills and improve their confidence while driving. Additionally, it can aid motorists in identifying potential hazards, helping them avoid further incidents.
How Long Should Anxiety Last After a Car Accident?
The length of time it takes for a car accident victim to overcome anxiety varies depending on the individual and the circumstances of the incident. For example, serious accidents may cause the person to become anxious for several months or even years, particularly if the anxiety is left untreated. In contrast, victims of minor car accidents who promptly seek professional help may only have anxiety for a few days or weeks.
Why Is My Anxiety Worse After a Car Accident?
When a threat presents itself, the brain sends signals that alert the nervous system, leading to changes in a person’s heart rate, the dilating of an individual’s pupils, and enhanced blood flow. The human body does this to help save a person’s life, but it can also overreact and change how a person views another danger.
After experiencing a traumatizing car accident, an individual’s mind may associate daily tasks, such as getting into a car or passing another vehicle on the road, as a possible danger even if this is not the case. As a result, that individual may encounter anxiety-like symptoms when performing these tasks, which may include panic attacks.
Is Anxiety Common After a Car Accident?
Individuals involved in car accidents frequently experience emotional trauma, even if they sustained no physical injuries. This can include anxiety or other ailments, such as flashbacks, depression, and a fear of getting in and driving a vehicle.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney Today
To move forward after a vehicle collision and get driving again, try concentrating on what you can control, such as adopting safe driving practices and minimizing distractions. Researching online educational materials and reaching out to a mental health professional are recommended approaches for those who are struggling with persistent anxiety after a car accident. Consider additionally getting in touch with a Missouri car accident lawyer from Steelman Gaunt Crowley at (573) 341-8336 to understand the available legal options.