How to Emotionally Cope After a Major Accident
Being in a major car accident can be a traumatic event for everyone involved, especially those who lose someone in the process. It often takes a long time to heal fully from a car or traffic accident, but this sentiment only covers the physical injuries incurred during an accident. While you will take time off work and help your body to heal, it is important that survivors of car accidents take care of mental and emotional health as well.
Shock and Denial
Once you’ve been in a car accident – if you’ve lost someone or lost property – you may be in shock for a few days to a week afterward. Shock after an accident is different for each person inside it, but common symptoms include numbness, emotional distress, a continuing sense of fear or unpredictable mood swings. This happens for drivers, passengers, or witnesses. It is important to remember that you are not messed up or especially sensitive – everyone feels these things.
Experiencing Strong Emotions
When you see that a car accident is affecting you emotionally, you’ll also find that you have a few powerful and negative emotions coming to the surface. These will include anger, irritability, and agitation and will affect how you live your daily life. Because these feelings will be overpowering, it is best not to ignore them. Speak to a therapist or loved one to sort through these strong feelings as soon as you can, as it is too easy to take anger out on the world.
When you understand that you need to sort out through the strongest, and notably most negative, emotions, you will likely blame yourself and wonder what you could have done. At this point, you and your therapist or loved ones will nip that in the bud – remind yourself that accidents happen, and it was not your fault. Of course, this may take years to heal from this and it may take a daily affirmation.
After an accident is over and done with, you may find yourself okay – healing well – but some may also experience post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Symptoms include intrusive thoughts or re-experiencing the accident, emotional numbing or avoiding the present or trust, as well as hyper-arousal. Hyper-arousal is a nerve response and incurs a physical response to trauma – or what is believed to be trauma.
Getting Back to Normal
These negative feelings that you experience after being involved in an accident are not your fault but require your immediate attention and willingness to work through. You will especially find these feelings arise when it comes time to drive again. Do not expect to ‘get over it,’ but take car rides one at a time, a little at a time.
Remember, don’t simply read more about life after an accident – speak to a health professional. There is nothing wrong with taking time to heal emotionally as well as physically. Do not simply focus on whether your body is capable of going back to work but worry about your mindset as well. It takes to heal completely after an accident, so give yourself that time.