In addition to bodily injury and inconvenience, issues with mental health after an auto accident can be serious. Studies have shown that 9% of people who are involved in motor vehicle accidents develop some form of PTSD afterward (Very Well Mind). Anxiety and depression are other conditions that can arise after an accident (WebMD). Even the most minor changes to one’s mental health after an accident should not go ignored. Here is what you should know and what to look out for.
These symptoms are generally normal to have at first and should go away after some time. However, if they persist, become debilitating, or affect one’s daily life, something more concerning may be going on.
The psychological impacts of car accidents aren’t always directly proportional to the gravity of the accident, the seriousness of injuries sustained, or even one’s mental health history. Anyone who drives a vehicle or rides in one takes the risk of getting into a car accident. Because of this, everyone should be aware of the possible effects a car accident can have on their mental health. In addition, studies have shown that 15% to 25% of children involved in motor vehicle accidents experience symptoms of depression even months after the fact (Very Well Mind). Therefore, parents especially need to be aware of this possibility for the sake of their children who may not be able to understand or communicate the symptoms they may experience.
The direct causes for these mental health impacts vary on the person and the circumstances of the accident. The stressful experience of an accident itself can bring on effects to one’s mental health, as can the experience of dealing with injuries and the pain associated with them. It is important to note that the psychological impact of an accident is not always directly proportional to the severity of the accident or injuries involved. Studies have shown that increased levels of stress hormones can last for months even after minor trauma (WebMD). Another study has shown that 40% of those who suffered just from whiplash after a motor vehicle accident reported newly onset symptoms of depression within 6 weeks of the accident (Institute for Work and Health). While whiplash can be very serious and painful, it tends to be a common injury sustained in traffic accidents. The point is, the effects accidents have on mental health are not exclusively associated with only the most traumatic accidents and injuries. Anyone can be affected. So don’t be too quick to dismiss symptoms even after a minor accident.
Were you recently involved in a motor vehicle accident and are now suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned above? Take a second to identify what you are feeling. Mention it to your healthcare provider so that the necessary treatment can be given. Talking with friends and family and doing things you enjoy can also be incredibly beneficial in dealing with the psychological effects of an accident (Psychologenie).