Psychological Consequences of Car Accidents: Insights into PTSD, Anxiety, & Depression

Victims of car accidents suffer long-term negative effects. The lives of victims and their families can be severely affected by a range of consequences, including physical injury, financial hardship, and even death.

Victims of these accidents also suffer from psychological damage. Having a reliable Calgary car accident lawyer on your side throughout this time is crucial to guarantee that you get the proper legal assistance to obtain the justice you have a right to.

Car Accidents In Canada: What The Numbers Say

  • Motor vehicle fatalities in 2021: 1,768 (up 1.3% from 2020)
  • Serious injuries in 2021: 8,185 (up 4% from 2020)
  • Total injuries in 2021: 108,018 (up 3.6% from 2020)
  • Fatalities per 100,000 population in 2021: 4.7 (up from 4.6 in 2020)

Common Causes Of Car Accidents

  • Texting, talking on the phone, eating, and adjusting the radio while driving are major causes of accidents.
  • Overspeeding lowers a driver’s capacity to react to risks.
  • Alcohol and drugs affect judgment, coordination, and reaction time while driving.
  • Tailgating, weaving, and disobeying traffic signals.
  • Brake failures, tire blowouts, and other mechanical difficulties can cause accidents if neglected.


Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most frequent mental health issue that individuals experience following a car accident. Particularly, violent automobile accidents may trigger PTSD and cause severe trauma to the victims.

PTSD After Severe Vehicular Crashes

The 2009 Association For The Advancement of Automotive Medicine study examined characteristics that may predict PTSD following a car crash.

  • The researchers questioned 367 crash victims at six months and 317 at 12 months.
  • Questions included how they were acting, what happened during the accident, how they were recovering, and whether or not they were experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
  • Within six months, 27.5% of participants developed PTSD, and by 12 months, 24.3% had developed it.
  • They discovered that being female, having a history of depression, causing the collision, experiencing violence prior, and someone dying in the crash were the strongest predictors of PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD

  • Problems focusing, hypersensitivity to shock, 
  • Aggressiveness, irritability, and risky or harmful behaviour
  • Strong, uncontrollable flashbacks to the accident
  • A “blackout” may occur as a consequence of flashbacks.
  • Having frequent nightmares
  • Avoiding driving, riding in vehicles, or being near cars.
  • Signs of severe mental or physical discomfort upon exposure to any triggers


Anxiety After A Car Accident

Common Types of Anxiety Disorder

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Marked by an overwhelming amount of unwarranted concern and nervousness over various situations and activities. GAD sufferers may have trouble controlling their concerns and experience muscle tension, restlessness, and exhaustion.

  1. Panic Disorder

Has recurring and unexpected panic attacks, which climax within minutes. Panic episodes can cause heart palpitations, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, and foreboding.

  1. Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

Involves much worry or terror about being the centre of attention in a group setting. This dread can prevent social contact and make daily life difficult.

Symptoms of Anxiety Following Car Accidents

  • Continuous Fear or Panic. Anxiety about driving again, dread of another accident, or road phobia.
  • Irregular Thoughts or Flashbacks. Frequent, upsetting accident memories may suddenly enter your mind.
  • Indications on the Body. When thinking about the accident or similar event, they may experience increased heart rate, sweating, trembling, disorientation, or shortness of breath.
  • Reluctance to Engage. Staying away from highways and intersections and any other driving conditions could lead to a repeat of the accident.
  • Alarm state. Feeling on edge all the time or unable to concentrate because of increased stress levels.


Contributors To Post-Accident Anxiety Disorders

Factors Reasons
Accident Severity There is a connection between the severity and traumatic impact of an accident and the development of anxiety disorders. Major accidents with life-threatening injuries might affect mental health.
Personal Injury Pain, discomfort, and possible disability from accident injuries can cause anxiety. There may be a lot of pressure if you’re in constant pain and worried about being hurt again.
Pre-existing Mental Health Conditions Anxieties following an accident may be more common in people who already suffer from anxiety disorders or other mental health issues. 
Assistance from Friends and Family Lack of support may increase anxiety. Anxiety disorders can be lessened or prevented with the help of a solid support system that includes loved ones and medical professionals. 
Stress over Money Medical bills, lost income, and legal difficulties cause worry after an accident.Concerns about the future and the state of personal finances could worsen anxiety symptoms.
Unable to Get Back to Regular Life The inability to resume normal activities due to physical or psychological injuries can lead to feelings of helplessness, irritation, and anxiety.

Post-Accident Depression

Depression is a complicated mental illness that causes sadness, hopelessness, and apathy. Depression can be mild, moderate, or severe, and it can come and go in episodes or be chronic.

Signs Of Depression

  • Feeling down or hopeless most of the time.
  • Getting bored with something you used to love.
  • Extreme changes in weight, either increasing or decreasing.
  • Issues with falling or remaining asleep.
  • Feeling exhausted all the time, even after a good night’s sleep.
  • Feeling useless or excessive guilt over past events.
  • Problems in concentration, memory, and decision-making.
  • Reflecting on the concept of death, dying, or self-harm.

Effects on Recovery After An Accident

  • Physical Recovery Delay. Depression can delay physical recovery by decreasing motivation and energy. Depressed people may have trouble following medical advice and may not do their rehabilitation exercises as prescribed.
  • Heightened Sensitivity to Pain. Extreme pain sensitivity is a common symptom of depression. This can make accident-related physical discomfort worse, making the recovery process tougher.
  • Cognitive Impairment. Depression can impair concentration, memory, and decision-making. This can make rehabilitation harder and make it harder to relearn skills or adjust to accident changes.
  • Isolation and Social Withdrawal. This isolation can hinder recovery by limiting access to emotional support, resources, and social engagement, essential for motivation and resilience.
  • Secondary Health Problems Are More Likely to Occur. Depression can increase a person’s risk of getting secondary health problems like heart disease, gastrointestinal troubles, or chronic pain. These extra health problems might make recovery more difficult.


How To Emotionally Cope After A Car Accident

Get Some Professional Advice

Think about seeing a trauma or post-accident psychologist. They offer personalized support, direction, and evidence-based therapies.

Open Up About How You Feel

Feel free to confide in loved ones or trustworthy friends about your feelings. Talking about your experiences can reduce isolation and provide emotional support.

Maintain an Active Lifestyle

Physical activity reduces stress and boosts mood. While mindful of any physical limits caused by the accident, engage in activities that bring you joy, such as walking, yoga, or swimming.

Stay Away from Potential Triggers

Avoid places, people, and events that bring back accident memories. This may require temporarily avoiding particular activities or finding support to overcome triggers progressively.

Be Kind to Yourself

Be compassionate to yourself and accept that trauma can cause a range of feelings. Just as you would be patient and kind with a friend going through the same thing, be patient and understanding with yourself.

How Can Lawyers Help

Hiring a lawyer after a car crash can help you significantly with the complicated legal procedure of claiming damages. When dealing with insurance companies or arguing your case in court, having this comprehensive documentation will help your case. Lawyers can examine your missed wages, property damage, and pain and suffering to ensure you get fair compensation.

Seek Justice With Sidhu Laywers

Trauma and emotional distress are common outcomes of motor vehicle crashes. Legal proceedings following an accident can be stressful, but with a lawyer at your side, you can rest easy and have a better chance of a favourable outcome. 

Professional legal services from Sidhu Personal Injury Lawyers Calgary can reduce accident stress. Put your worries to rest, knowing that our experienced attorney will be by your side every step of the way.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Increases stress chemicals, which hinder healing and worsen health issues.
  • Affects family and friend ties, causing social isolation and recovery support issues. 
  • Flashbacks, nightmares, and concentration issues can lower productivity. Returning to work may be difficult or need changes, causing monetary stress and loss of independence.
  • Lower the quality of life by creating distress and limiting everyday activities. Fear, anger, and desperation may overwhelm joyful experiences, lowering well-being.
  • May use alcohol or drugs to manage symptoms, which can hinder recovery and raise the risk of substance abuse disorders.

Yes, survivor’s guilt may arise without direct accident responsibility. Regardless of responsibility, survivors may feel terrible about making it through while others suffer or die. A therapist or support group can help you recognize and address these feelings.

Yes, it is possible to include psychological harm in personal injury claims caused by vehicle accidents. The severity of the trouble or impairment to normal daily activities they have caused must be considered. After the accident, you must seek the advice of an experienced attorney 

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