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Why People Suffer From Mental Health Problems After a Car Accident

Car accidents are a widespread occurrence. According to the National Security Council (NSC), there were around 5.4 million medically consulted injuries in vehicle accidents. These accidents can be deadly, but many people survive them. However, some people who have been involved in car accidents suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is a mental condition caused by severe trauma (such as being involved in an auto accident).

The Immediate Impact of Car Accidents on Mental Health

Car collisions and even related deaths are rising in numbers. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, traffic deaths in the city peaked at 81 in 2020. In 2022, the numbers were at 78, still very high from the pre-Covid levels.

Such news and numbers can instill fear in the hearts of those who just survived a severe car accident. The psychological impact of a car accident can be devastating. For example, it’s not uncommon for people to experience flashbacks and nightmares after they’ve been involved in a severe collision. In fact, one study from NCBI found that 15-47% of victims develop PTSD and other psychiatric disorders after car accidents.

The impact on mental health can last for years or even decades after the incident has occurred. In fact, the psychological impact of being involved in an accident is more serious than its physical effects. That’s because it lingers long after any visible injuries have healed. This means that those who suffer from PTSD may need treatment for years after their accident took place.

Unseen Wounds: The Subtle Culprits of Mental Health Challenges

One of the most important things to remember when you’re recovering from a car accident is that there are many unseen wounds. The physical injuries are apparent, but there are also long-term effects that can result from trauma and PTSD.

In one study published in the ScienceDirect Journal, 45% of the crash victims reported road crash-related chronic pain even after two years. This rate can vary according to the age and type of vehicles involved. These physical symptoms can also lead to mental health problems.

If you are facing any such physical or mental health problems, suing the other driver at fault can help. Car accidents can lead to numerous expenses, such as medical bills, lost wages, mental health toll, degraded quality of life, etc. All these factors can affect your mental health. For instance, if you are the sole earner in your family, lost wages can lead to stress.

Filing and winning a lawsuit can get you the deserved compensation in such scenarios. This can relieve some financial pressure and improve your mental health. Hence, the TorHoerman Law website states that finding and hiring an experienced car accident attorney to file a lawsuit is vital.

According to the website, a lawyer can help you evaluate if you have a good case. If you have one, he or she will also help file a lawsuit and represent you in all legal proceedings. The attorney will also deal with the insurance company to get you the right compensation.

Therefore, hiring a local expert who knows all the area-specific regulations is crucial. For instance, St. Louis’s personal injury statute of limitations is five years. This can be less in cities of other states. Knowing such details can help file the case at the right time. Hence, hiring a car accident lawyer in St. Louis in such a situation will be beneficial.

Recognizing Risk Factors

Certain risk factors can increase the chances of developing mental health problems after a car accident. These include:

  • The severity of the accident: The more severe the accident, the higher the likelihood of developing mental health problems. This includes accidents resulting in significant injuries or fatalities.
  • Physical injuries: Suffering from physical injuries can contribute to emotional distress. Chronic pain, disability, or disfigurement may impact an individual’s mental well-being.
  • Previous trauma: Individuals who have experienced trauma in the past may be more vulnerable to mental health issues following a car accident.
  • Perceived life threat: If individuals perceive the accident as life-threatening or feel their life is in danger, they are more likely to experience post-traumatic stress symptoms.
  • Loss of a loved one: If the accident results in the loss of a family member, friend, or significant other, survivors may face grief, guilt, or complicated bereavement.
  • Financial strain: Financial difficulties resulting from medical expenses, vehicle repairs, or loss of income can contribute to stress and anxiety.
  • Lack of social support: Individuals with limited social support may struggle more with the emotional aftermath. A robust support system can buffer against the impact of trauma.
  • Pre-existing mental health conditions: Individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, may find their symptoms exacerbated by the stress of the accident.
  • Inadequate coping skills: People who lack effective coping mechanisms may struggle to deal with the emotional aftermath of a car accident.
  • Legal issues: Dealing with legal matters, insurance claims, and potential litigation can be stressful and may contribute to mental health issues.
  • Flashbacks and intrusive memories: Experiencing flashbacks or intrusive memories of the accident can be a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Delayed onset of symptoms: Mental health issues may not immediately manifest and could appear days, weeks, or even months after the accident.

Neurobiological Factors

Several neurobiological factors can cause mental health problems after a car accident. Brain injuries, trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder are all associated with depression, anxiety, and addiction.

According to fox2now.com, 1 out of 60 Americans are living with permanent brain injury-induced disability. One of the recent examples is when Mr Ben was thrown out of his car after a hit-and-run. According to his spouse, he had suffered severe brain trauma. He had to spend a month in a coma at a St. Louis hospital with a 2% chance of survival. He still has to go for cognitive therapies to date.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the most common causes of post-accident mental health issues. TBIs can result in cognitive impairment, personality changes, memory loss, and other symptoms that can be debilitating to those who suffer from them.

Seeking Help: The Importance of Timely Intervention

The sooner you seek help, the more likely your recovery will be successful. It’s not unusual for people to suffer from mental health problems after an accident or other traumatic event. However, they can become more severe if you don’t address these issues immediately.

A good therapist can help guide you through this difficult time by providing support and guidance. He or she can also help identify any underlying causes of your distress. Finding a therapist who will work well with your needs is essential, so ask around.

If possible, get recommendations from friends and family members who have had positive experiences with their own therapists. See if they would recommend their practitioner in particular. You may also want to consult online resources like Yelp or Google Reviews before making an appointment.

To conclude, addressing the mental health impact of car accidents is essential for comprehensive recovery. Recognizing the interconnectedness of physical and psychological well-being, individuals involved in accidents should prioritize seeking support from mental health professionals. Early intervention and a holistic approach to healing can empower individuals to navigate the challenges posed by the aftermath of a car accident.

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