The Toll a Car Accident Has On Your Mental Health

A car accident is a violent thing, and the aftermath can leave you in shock. While the recovery process and the next steps you take typically focus on your physical injuries, the logistics of insurance claims, and vehicle repairs. Among this madness it is common to forget one important part of your recovery, your mental health. The long term impact of a car accident or traumatic event can extend far beyond the visible injuries, and can often deeply affect and alter your mental health. Understanding this is the first step to healing. In this article we will be going through the most common mental health issues that arise after a traumatic event, as well as what you can do to learn to cope and overcome these challenges.

The Psychological Impact of a Car Accident

A car accident is an inherently traumatizing event. We drive our cars nearly every day and when a crash occurs that feeling of safety we have completely vanishes. Knowing this, the trauma that occurs after being involved in a car accident can lead to a wide variety of different mental health challenges. Roughly 40% of all victims involved in an accident develop some sort of mental health symptom, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, and anxiety. While each of these mental health conditions are different they all possess the ability to seriously disrupt the flow of your everyday life, affecting your ability to work, maintain relationships, and even enjoy previously enjoyed activities.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post traumatic stress disorder is a disorder that develops when a person has experienced or witnessed a scary, shocking, terrifying, or dangerous event. PTSD can manifest itself through vivid flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and an ongoing fear of events related to the accident. With roughly six million car accidents occurring in the U.S alone last year,  car accidents are the leading cause of PTSD, with 39.2% of survivors developing some kind of PTSD. Post traumatic stress disorder is a response to your trauma that you have experienced, and can make reliving the accident feel completely unavoidable. If your symptoms worsen and your fear grows, seek out a licensed professional immediately to discuss your mental health.


After being in an accident your sense of security may feel completely destroyed; this can spiral and lead you to feelings of deep sadness, loss of interest in activities that you enjoyed, and withdrawal from social activities. These are all some of the most common signs of depression, a mood disorder where symptoms can deeply affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities. An accident can sometimes lead you into a dark place which can lead to serious depressive symptoms. If your symptoms spiral out of control and you struggle to maintain your lifestyle without falling into a deep sadness, consider speaking with a therapist as they can help you work through these feelings.

Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Anxiety can be very common after an accident. Anxiety is typically a persistent feeling of dread that can leave you feeling restless, irritable, and sometimes out of control of your own feelings. Feeling intense feelings of anxiety after an accident is incredibly common and can be treated through medication or speaking with a medical professional.

Coping Strategies and A Pathway to Recovery

When you are working on your recovery it is important that you understand that experiencing any of these mental health reactions are completely normal and expected after a traumatic step, and recognizing this is the first step towards your recovery. Here are a few strategies that you can try to develop to help you cope with and overcome these emotional challenges:

  • Professional Support: If your symptoms worsen or you feel a lack of control over your mental health, engaging with a mental health professional should be your next step. A therapist or a counselor specialized in trauma can provide you with helpful coping tools and strategies that are needed for improving your mental health. Therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) have been proven effective in treating PTSD, Depression, and Anxiety Disorders.
  • Medication: In some cases where your symptoms are not going away, medication may be the next step. Medication, when prescribed by a psychiatrist or doctor, can help you manage the symptoms of your mental health conditions. This can help make it much easier to engage in your daily routine and attend therapy.
  • Self Care and Routine:  When you deal with a mental health disorder establishing a regular routine can be a huge factor in regaining your sense of control. Trying to make sure that your day consists of healthy eating, sleep, and exercise can help to maintain a sense of normalcy in your day to day life and improve your overall well-being. If you are feeling well enough, physical activity has been shown to greatly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques:  Participating in yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises can help significantly reduce the stress levels you have and can help you learn to manage the symptoms of anxiety and PTSD.
  • Support Systems: In times where you are at your lowest being able to lean on friends, family, or support groups for individuals who have experienced similar trauma can help to provide you a sense of community and understanding. Sharing the experiences that you had and conversing with the people you love can offer you new perspectives and support, which is vital in your mental recovery.
  • Education and Awareness: Learning about your mental health and the issues that you have developed can help you to recognize symptoms you may be suffering from and take action. This knowledge can help empower you to seek out help for your mental health and understand that these experiences are a natural response to trauma.

Legal Help

After a car accident you have to deal with several high priority stressors that can all contribute to worsening your mental health. Having to manage an insurance claim, figuring out what to do with your car, and the financial strain of medical treatment can become very stressful. Hiring a car accident lawyer will help manage these stressors. A skilled car accident lawyer will take care of everything, from opening an insurance claim, helping you figure out what to do with your car, and getting you the settlement you deserve from your injuries. At LifeLaw Personal Injury the best personal injury lawyer will be at your side, and will ensure that you won’t have to focus on any of the stressful parts of your injury claim and you can focus on what is really important, your recovery.

Overcoming the mental turmoil after a car accident can be incredibly difficult and can take time. In this time it is crucial that you recognize that these changes in your mental health are completely natural and are a normal response to an abnormal event. Make sure that your mental health gets the same care as your physical health and try your best to cultivate the right support systems and coping strategies. Maintaining healthy routines and getting proper mental treatment are the first step and doing this a return to normalcy is within reach. Remember, it is always okay to ask for help, and doing so is a sign of strength, not weakness. 

If you or anyone you know has been injured in a car accident, let the best car accident lawyers in Utah at LifeLaw Personal Injury help alleviate this burden. At LifeLaw Personal Injury our team of car accident lawyers will fight for your rights and make sure that you get the compensation that you deserve for your pain and suffering. If you have been injured contact LifeLaw Personal Injury today for a free consultation, and to discuss your options further.