No matter how much you try to drive carefully and responsibly, you’ll never know when accidents can happen. Car accidents are very traumatic and can leave crash survivors in shock or full of guilt, fear, nervousness, or anger. All these emotions are normal reactions to the situation. But it is better for a survivor to take a few deep breaths first, or try to count from 1 to 10 in order to calm down. This will better prepare the survivors to take stock of the accident and analyze the extent of damage.
Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is as upsetting and traumatic as the crash itself. People can appear to be in a state of shock several hours or even days after the accident. They may feel that it could have been avoided and they may start to blame themselves. Sometimes, people close to those who were involved in the accident, like families and best friends, can experience some emotional problems as well. All these feelings are normal. But as soon as every damage is taken care of, these accidents become mere afterthoughts.
However, when the feeling gets unusually stronger or last for longer periods of time, it may hinder the crash survivors from their normal daily functions. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, might occur to the survivors when the car accident involves severe injuries or has resulted in deaths. Signs of PTSD may show up immediately following the accident, or weeks or even months later.
PTSD is a very strong stress reaction that can develop in people after a traumatic event that involves directly experiencing the event. Aside from a serious car accident, a natural disaster like an earthquake, personal assaults and abuse, terrorist attacks and military combat can also cause PTSD.
Although not all people who experience stress after a car accident develops PTSD, it is better to take note of the following symptoms:
- avoiding emotions or any reminders of the incident
- constant feelings of anxiousness, crankiness, or anger
- avoiding medical tests or procedures
- constantly reliving the incident in one’s mind
- nightmares or trouble sleeping
For those who have any of these symptoms after having been in a car accident, discussing the experience with loved ones or close friends can be psychologically therapeutic. It will greatly help in releasing whatever suppressed emotions that are bottled up inside. Try to bring back the normalcy in life by engaging in regular daily activities, no matter how difficult it may seem. If these things don’t work, consult with a health care professional to get the necessary treatment. Mental health professionals such as psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors who specialize in treating anxiety problems are usually experienced in working with people who have PTSD.
There are those who avoid seeking professional help because they’re afraid that talking about the incident will bring back memories or feelings that are too painful. PTSD is not like something that can be forgotten quickly or can be willed to go away. Getting treatment and support can make all the difference. People with PTSD need to work through the pain in order to reduce symptoms like nightmares and flashbacks. It can also help people avoid potentially harmful behaviors and emotions, like extreme anger or self-injury
Therapy may involve gradual talks in a safe environment and learning coping skills that help with anxiety, fear, or panic. Relaxation techniques can also be applied in order to help reset the stress response which resolves other problems like sleeping disorders.
The healing process may allow people to discover strengths they didn’t know they had, or a support network that they didn’t know was there. Treatment helps them find focus in life and develop new insights to cope with other problems.