Coping with trauma after a car accident

Experiencing a car accident is stressful, scary, and oftentimes traumatizing. This trauma can present itself as both physical injuries and emotional disruptions.

Many people underestimate the impacts of emotional trauma that can follow a car accident. Unfortunately, people don’t feel comfortable seeking professional help and struggle with PTSD and flashbacks after the car accident. We understand how tough this can be through our work rehabilitating clients from car accidents and know to approach the healing process compassionately. 

In this blog, we discuss the signs of trauma after a car accident and how you or a loved one can cope. Sarah Nichols, our Kinesiologist, and Karissa Chaput, our Social Worker, weigh in with their professional expertise.

Signs of trauma after a car accident

If you or a loved one experienced a car accident, there may be visible physical injuries present but it’s important to pay attention to spot any “invisible” injuries like a concussion. A list of common physical traumas after car accidents is below:

Physical trauma

  • Concussion
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Radiating and sharp pains
  • Lethargy 
  • Difficulty performing daily tasks such as getting dressed or preparing food
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Decreased strength
  • Aching, sharp, compression/pressure or throbbing pain

Emotional disruption and trauma

Trauma after a car accident can also manifest through emotional disruptions or mental health challenges. Know that you are not alone and there is help available. If you are experiencing any of the changes below, please reach out:

  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Isolation
  • Depressed mood
  • Anxious feelings
  • Low motivation 
  • Loss of enjoyment 
  • Difficulty adjusting  
  • Personality changes
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Loss of appetite

How to cope with trauma after a car accident

Oftentimes, after being involved in an accident, individuals are faced with a number of stressful situations that can create barriers in their recovery process. Examples of unexpected situations that can increase stress would be the inability to return to work, financial difficulties, loss of independence, accessibility to health care, difficulty adjusting to or accepting their physical or psychological limitations, as well as changes in mood and cognitive function. 

All the above-mentioned factors will oftentimes lead one to feel as though they are spiraling or losing control of their own life and well-being. A mental health professional will assist you in finding coping techniques to best suit your needs. They will provide and support you through these troubling times by creating a treatment plan based on your given situation, conducting referrals to appropriate resources, providing education and motivation, assisting you with goal setting and achievement, and advocating for your overall health and wellbeing.

Know that if you experienced a car accident, there is help available, both physical rehabilitation and mental health services. With professional help and customized treatment programs, you can learn to feel safe again. 

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