Why Recovery from Emotional Injury Can Take Longer than Healing from Physical Injury

man sitting on couch

Society has only recently begun to overcome antiquated stigmas associated with emotional trauma. Once viewed as a sign of weakness, emotional injuries are now regarded by medical professionals as serious medical problems that require the care and attention traditionally applied to physical injuries. Moreover, emotional injuries can affect the outcome of physical injury and vice versa. Unfortunately, while doctors are learning about the far-reaching effect of emotional injury, lack of general awareness means emotional injuries may last long after the physical wounds from an accident have healed.

In other words, people often take a long time to recover from emotional injuries because they often don't realize they have them in the first place.

Why People Have a Hard Time Getting Care for an Emotional Injury

So, why is it hard for people to recognize that they're suffering from an emotional injury or post-accident trauma?

Part of the reason is how differently one emotional injury appears from another. Mental trauma shows itself through a mixed set of symptoms and manifests in different individuals, making it difficult to measure. While one person might experience intense disassociation and lack of focus after a car accident, another may experience anger or significant mood swings.

Post-accident emotional trauma can manifest as:

  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Disassociation
  • Insomnia
  • Anger
  • Disorientation
  • Withdrawal
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Shame

Diagnosing an Emotional Injury

Adding to the difficulty of emotional trauma is its diagnosis.

If a patient has a broken arm, it is impossible to ignore and must be addressed by a doctor. However, emotional injuries are an invisible ailment, requiring the acceptance and acknowledgment of the patient to begin the healing process. Emotional injuries can go untreated by medical professionals until and unless you decide to share them—and even then, they must be shared with the right professional.

If someone suspects that they may be suffering from emotional trauma, they must first accept its existence to bring it up with a doctor. However, not many people are able to identify their own emotional injury and need people close to them to identify it and start the healing process.

The Consequences of Not Getting Treatment for Emotional Injury

Would you expect a broken leg or a damaged kidney to just "go away"? Of course not, but many of us treat our emotional injury as though healing happens on its own. Like any physical injury, an emotional injury requires treatment in order to heal—and like physical injuries, ignoring mental trauma can have serious health consequences in the future.

For instance, untreated trauma can lead to regular panic attacks and serious insomnia—both of which can affect your physical health. Insomnia can also make you less effective at work, increasing the risk of a workplace accident. Even if you're at a job where accidents aren't a risk, lack of sleep can create problems both for your health and your employment.

Untreated trauma from an accident can also result in serious problems with managing anger, which can lead to severe loneliness and depression. Recurring stress and anxiety from an emotional injury wear us down over time, sapping us of patience, calm, and peace. Eventually, people with chronic and untreated anxiety will be unable to regulate their anger—taking it out on spouses, children, or strangers. The wrong outburst at the wrong moment could result in an arrest, firing, or worse.

How to Address & Treat Emotional Injuries

Since mental trauma must be treated as a physical injury, it is important to address it correctly and start healing as soon as possible. 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.

If you or a loved one have experienced mental trauma due to an accident, schedule a consultation with HHR today. Our personal injury lawyers are ready to assist you on your path to recovery.

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