We talk a lot about the physical manifestations of accidents from minor to serious injuries. However, never overlook the potential psychological effects that arise from accidents that can have even more long lasting consequences.
An accident, almost by definition, is an unexpected trauma. You wake up, get ready for work or school, or prepare to drop off the kids, and suddenly, without warning, your car is hit while you’re waiting for a light to change. Or, you’re walking to the bus stop and fall over a faulty piece of concrete. Either way, that unexpected event can change life as you’ve always known it.
If you suffer serious injury, that accident can put you in the emergency room; or, it can prompt you to hire a personal injury attorney and begin a lengthy litigation. But it also, sometimes unknowingly, can make you scared to death of having another accident. In fact, I have had clients that have developed phobias around driving cars or even leaving their houses. Aside from any physical damage they may have suffered, the lingering psychological effects can ruin their lives.
How To Know You Have A Problem
This may very well be the problem. During the trauma you and nearly everyone else is solely focused on your physical well-being. Is anything broken? Do you have full control over your senses? Do you have headaches? Those are the questions that arise first.
Somewhat like traumatic brain injury, psychological trauma may go undetected. If you have ever had the tragic experience of losing a loved one, this phenomenon is similar. In the beginning, you are consumed with stress. You may make funeral arrangements, and greet friends and family in the process. Then, days or even weeks later, the grief sets in. In other words, that very loss keeps your brain focused on what you have to do until you no longer have to do it. Then, you are left just with the grief and the psychological damage that results from that loss.
So, you may have a serious accident, get through the physical stress of hospitals, doctors, diagnostic tests. Then, you are left with the traumatic memories of how your life changed in an instant.
What To Do
Be aware of how you feel. Are you more anxious? Are you depressed? Can you bounce back into your routine of work or school? If not; if you find yourself more and more isolated; more and more disinterested in leaving the house, or terrified of getting in the car, it is time to seek psychiatric help. Just like physical injuries, psychological injuries only get worse when they go untreated.