Following serious car accidents, many victims sustain physical injuries that require treatment and a period of recovery. However, victims are also likely to experience certain mental health issues as a result of the accident.
In cases involving psychological distress, emotional anguish may be short-term. However, victims can also suffer long-term mental health issues that negatively affect their daily lives in a variety of ways. To help overcome these issues and recover both psychologically and financially, victims must better understand the relationship between injury accidents and mental health.
Types of Mental Health Issues Accident Victims Experience
There are a few types of psychological distress victims may experience in addition to physical car crash injuries. These include:
One mental health issue that affects car accident victims is clinical depression. This may entail the formal diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD). Depression frequently results as an extension of the physical injuries and pain and suffering following a car accident.
Some symptoms of depression include general fatigue, a reduced ability to concentrate, lack of overall enjoyment of daily activities, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, feelings of worthlessness, guilt over the accident, or recurring suicidal thoughts. All of these and other symptoms could be indicative of depression and may require treatment with a mental health professional.
Car accident victims may also experience varying degrees of anxiety after a crash. While mild anxiety is common in the weeks or months following an accident, some victims suffer moderate to severe anxiety.
Anxiety following an accident could entail panic attacks triggered by stimuli, phobias pertaining to driving or riding in a vehicle, sleep disorders due to flashbacks and nightmares, or general anxiety. Some victims may also experience physical symptoms that accompany anxiety, including lightheadedness, headaches, nausea, muscle tension, or chest pain. Persistent anxiety, like depression, also warrants professional attention and treatment.
It’s possible to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a car accident. In fact, the American Psychological Association has found that car accidents are the leading cause of PTSD outside of the military. While some victims may develop PTSD, others may experience a less severe form known as acute stress disorder (ASD), which lasts for less than a month after an accident.
Victims with PTSD may experience flashbacks or have regularly occurring thoughts of the accident, avoid certain people or locations that may remind them of the accident, or experience a general emotional disconnect that impedes their ability to enjoy life and build healthy relationships. PTSD may also lead to other symptoms including depression and suicidal thoughts, making it necessary for victims to seek treatment.
Recovering Compensation for Mental Health Issues
If victims have suffered psychological distress in any form following an accident, they may be able to recover compensation with a personal injury claim. Compensation may cover expenses such as therapy and medication, along with pain and suffering resulting from both psychological pain and physical injuries.
Following a car accident, victims need to seek immediate medical attention if troubling symptoms result. After treatment, victims may be able to recover the compensation they need to pay for medical treatment and replace lost wages.