Accidents can leave mental scars that are often more deep-seated than physical injuries. Learn how to get on the road to a better mental state to aid in your recovery.
For victims of a car accident, one of the immediate concerns is treating any physical injuries that resulted from the accident. However, we tend to forget the fact that an accident is also a traumatic and emotional experience. In some ways, treating a broken leg or whiplash is more straightforward than someone suffering from shock or extreme stress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), after an accident.
Coping emotionally is just as important as recovering physically in order to carry on at the same quality of life prior to the accident. Not every victim will suffer PTSD; some may not even be aware they have it. Look out for these symptoms of stress disorder and learn how you can help yourself or others to manage anxiety and overcome the ordeal:
Reliving The Accident Ad Nauseam
After a car accident, some may suffer from frequent flashbacks of the accident, or are constantly reliving the trauma in their mind. They may also try to avoid anything associated with the accident, such as driving or, any conversation relating to the accident. This may lead to less emotional contact with those around them as well.
Unusually Strong Response to Stimuli
In some cases, victims can be easily startled and may react in an exaggerated manner to normal everyday situations completely unrelated to the accident. They can also start to feel exceptionally irritated and find it hard to fall asleep. Young children can become exceptionally clingy or start bedwetting again even if they have been toilet-trained.
Studies have shown that certain people may develop PTSD traits because of the chronic pain they suffer from an accident. This may continue over the course of any disability that resulted or from lack of pain management. So treating physical injuries as effectively as possible should be the first course of action. Consult a doctor to teach you effective pain management techniques. It is important not to rely on medications, such as sleeping pills, to treat your depression or physical pain unless these are prescribed by your consulting doctor. Don’t rush into any physical activity before you clear it with your doctor.
Recognise that the anxiety you feel is completely normal, and adopt a positive mindset that it can be managed. Try these simple techniques to lower your anxiety.
- Practice slow deliberate breathing; be mindful of each breath you take and expel it slowly each time.
- Pay attention to the immediate world around you; focus on physical objects such as a flowerpot or the clouds in the sky. This will help to stop you from mentally reliving the accident.
- Get help from a therapist to learn and use muscle relaxation techniques that can de-stress the tension in your body to ease the mind.
Be patient and accept the fact that the rehabilitation process will take time. Try and continue your daily life as normally as you physically can so that, even if the anxiety lingers, it needs not dominate your life.