A car accident can change your life faster than you can blink. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), crashes on roadways in 2013 resulted in 32,719 deaths and approximately 2.3 million injuries. Let’s break that down: on average, using these statistics, one person is killed in a car crash every 16 minutes, and one person is injured in a car crash every 13.7 seconds. Those numbers can be scary, and even the best drivers may find themselves in a car accident at some point.
Car Accidents and Psychological Trauma
When most people think about injuries that result from car accidents, they think of concussions, whiplash, or broken bones. But what about the psychological trauma that can come with being in a car accident? Anyone who has ever been in a car accident knows that it can be traumatic, but did you know that car accidents are actually one of the most overlooked causes of emotional and psychological injury?
People with even a mild case of mental or emotional trauma can experience any combination of symptoms. Those with more severe psychological injuries may want to seek professional medical or psychological assistance. These medical professionals might be able to give the afflicted person a specific diagnosis like acute stress disorder. Really severe cases might even result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The symptoms of psychological trauma listed below come from helpguide.org:
Emotional and Psychological Trauma Symptoms
- Shock, denial, or disbelief
- Anger, irritability, mood swings
- Guilt, shame, self-blame
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Confusion, difficulty concentrating
- Anxiety and fear
- Withdrawing from others
- Feeling disconnected or numb
Physical Trauma Symptoms
- Insomnia or nightmares
- Being startled easily
- Racing heartbeat
- Aches and pains
- Difficulty concentrating
- Edginess and agitation
- Muscle tension
What To Do
For many people, their symptoms last from a few days to a few months, and gradually fade as they process the trauma. Even long after the original accident, however, specific triggers can sometimes bring back painful memories and emotions. These triggers include an anniversary of the event or a situation, sound, or image that reminds the person of their traumatic experience.
For most people, their symptoms fade without outside help. It takes time, and everybody heals at their own pace. Nevertheless, if months have passed without a lessening of the symptoms, a person should seek professional help from a trauma expert. Additionally, if a psychological injury has affected a person’s ability to function; they suffer severe fear, anxiety, or depression; they experience terrifying flashbacks, memories, or nightmares; or they avoid things that remind them of the trauma, they should seek professional help.
If you or someone you love has received a psychological injury in a car accident, you may want to contact Souces: