Including Mental Health on the Path to Recovery
Just like their physical counterparts, mental injuries can change your life after an accident. Though they are not always attended to like physical injuries, psychological injuries need to be approached with the same attention and urgency given to physical injuries. These unseen wounds take time, patience, and professional treatment to heal.
Importantly, if you are experiencing mental or emotional trauma after an accident, you should remember that you are not alone. Studies estimate that at least one-third of car accident survivors experience some sort of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or another form of mental injury. Taking care of your mental health at the same time as your physical injuries will open the doors to the most efficient and complete recovery possible.
If you think your mental health is suffering following an accident, do not hesitate to immediately contact a medical professional—just like you would for a back injury or broken arm.
Types of Mental & Emotional Trauma
Just as the body is a system comprised of many parts, your mental state relies on a complex combination of factors that control how you think, feel, and act on a day-to-day basis. The regular functioning of these components may be altered due to a traumatic event such as a car or truck accident.
Some of the most common forms of mental traumas after an accident include the following:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – A disorder caused by any situation that produces mental or emotional trauma. A sign of PTSD is reoccurring anxiety, thoughts, or dreams about the accident. Those suffering from PTSD are subject to sudden and severe bouts of the disorder’s symptoms.
- Depression – The World Health Organization estimates that about 300 million people around the world have depression. After an accident, symptoms of depression may be amplified due to monetary struggles, personal injury, or loss of a loved one.
- Dissociation – A type of disorder that causes a person to not feel at home in their body. Two major forms of dissociative disorders are depersonalization and derealization. More details for these issues may be read in the following post: Why Accident Victims Don’t Feel at Home in Their Bodies.
Though these are not the only forms of mental health issues that those who experience an accident are prone to, they are some of the most common. Importantly, these issues are should be treated as illnesses that need the time and attention that a physical injury would also receive.
How to Address & Treat Mental Trauma
Mental trauma manifests in several ways, some of which are subtle at first. Obsessing over the accident after a long period of time is a sign that your mental state has not yet healed from the trauma you’ve experienced. Additionally, you may find yourself avoiding situations which may resemble the environment that your accident occurred in. These behaviors are often accompanied by nightmares, restless nights, and the symptoms listed above.
Since we must treat mental trauma as an injury, it is important to address it correctly and approach the issue at its earliest stages. Talking to family members and other loved ones may assist your healing process as you work through the emotional and physical wounds of your accident. However, if your symptoms are persistent, the help of a medical doctor should be obtained.
Some may feel as though psychiatric issues are a sign that they are permanently damaged—this is simply untrue. Mental trauma is just as much of an injury as a broken bone or a flesh wound. It may take time, but healing is possible. Unfortunately, negative social stigmas have made some ashamed to take steps toward recovery.
Including your mental injuries in the healing process will provide the most complete and safe road to recovery possible. Importantly, do not wait to talk to a doctor if you think you may be experiencing mental trauma. Just as with any other sickness, the symptoms of mental trauma may worsen the longer they remain untreated.
Tips for Dealing with Mental Trauma
The following techniques may assist you in coping with your trauma. However, these methods should not be used in favor of visiting a medical professional.
Maintain Dialogue with Others
It is important that you do not isolate yourself. Keep up with those close to you and ask them for support. Remember, you do not have to talk about the accident if you do not want to. If you do not have easy access to friends or loved ones, then joining clubs or taking classes are great ways of building new relationships that can provide much-needed emotional nourishment.
If physical injuries are not preventing you from being mobile, it is important to stay active. Active movement can help release your body from the disrupting power of trauma.
When you feel anxiety mounting, practice mindful breathing by paying close attention to your inhaling and exhaling. Tips for mindful breathing that are supported by research may be found here. Additionally, allowing yourself to be emotional can be a powerful tool to overcome anxiety. Acknowledging emotions allows you to accept them as they happen.
Practice Good Health
Making healthy practices a regular part of your routine may help to improve your mental health. Getting the right amount of sleep, avoiding alcohol, and eating healthy are great habits for physical health and mental clarity. Before your accident, you may have been able to get away with getting little sleep every night, but now that you’re injured, you need to start treating your resting schedule more deliberately.
If you or a loved one have experienced mental trauma due to a car or truck accident, schedule a consultation with HHR today. Our Pennsylvania car accident lawyers have helped thousands of people recover from car accidents by holding their wrongdoers accountable. Call (888) 498-3023 to review your options with us.