When you’ve been in a vehicle crash, you may be so focused on your physical injuries that you forget that you may be suffering emotionally, too. Bruises, lacerations, and broken bones may be more obvious than symptoms like depression or anxiety, but your emotional wounds are just as important to tend to as any physical wounds you may have.
If you’re suffering emotionally, there’s no shame in seeking professional help. A therapist can help you just as much as a doctor can. If you’re experiencing the following emotions and they persist for more than a few days or weeks, you may want to see a counselor.
Emotions You May Experience After a Wreck
As you read this list, it’s important to keep in mind that no two car accident victims will experience the same range of emotions. Whatever you’re experiencing is unique to you, so you may not have some of these feelings.
After being injured in an incident as violent as a car wreck, it’s natural that you’d be worried about being injured again. Your brain may be making you feel emotions like fear and worry after a wreck as a survival mechanism to keep you safe. In most cases, this will lessen over time.
No one expects to be in an accident, and this is why shock is such a common emotion after a crash. You may not be able to believe that the accident happened or be in denial about the severity of your injuries. If you’re having mood swings because you’re afraid long after the danger has passed, just know it’s perfectly normal.
Whether you caused the wreck or not, you may still be feeling guilty, especially if there were injuries. If you were at-fault, you may feel ashamed that your mistake hurt others. If you weren’t at-fault, you may still feel guilty that you didn’t act in time to prevent the crash. This is the time to practice self-forgiveness. It’s in the past, and you can’t change it.
You may feel agitated and irritable after an accident, and you may be angry at the other driver. This can even happen if they weren’t at fault. If you were a passenger, you may be angry at both drivers. Children and teens who are in crashes may even lash out at people who weren’t involved in the wreck at all. Again, this is all normal.
If you’re feeling angry after a crash, you might want to try paying close attention to your feelings so you can pinpoint what is causing the anger. Practicing deep breathing exercises to help you relax when you experience one of your anger triggers can help you overcome this.
If You Develop PTSD
If you don’t seem to be moving past the emotions you experienced after the accident, you may have developed post-traumatic stress disorder. This is so common that traffic accidents have become the most common cause of PTSD since the Vietnam War. These are the symptoms of PTSD:
- Intrusive memories
- Memory problems
- Inability to enjoy your life
- Emotional detachment
If you believe you may have PTSD, it’s important to seek professional treatment. There are therapies and coping strategies that can help
Moving On From Your Accident
No matter how dark the days seem in the immediate aftermath of your injury, you CAN get your life back on track even after a severe personal injury. You can follow the link to learn more about the resources that are available to help.
After an accident your body and mind will try to heal, and both are interconnected. That’s why getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy food, and staying active are essential to your recovery. If you’ve developed unhealthy coping mechanisms like using caffeine, alcohol, or drugs to cope, be aware that these will make it take longer for you to move forward.
One great tip for moving past this trauma is to try to return to your normal routine as soon as possible. If it’s not possible due to your injuries, create a new normal routine you can stick to. The predictability of a routine can help calm anxiety, but be patient and give yourself time because it may not happen right away.