Have you been in a car accident? If so, you may be dealing with more than just physical injuries. You may also be dealing with psychological issues that can impact your life in many ways. It’s important to understand the range of possible psychological problems after an accident and to seek help if you need it.
This blog post will explore some of the common psychological issues after a car accident and offer tips for getting support.
It is normal to feel scared or anxious after a car accident, even if you were not seriously injured
A car accident is a stressful and frightening situation, even if you were lucky enough not to end up with any serious injuries. Many people feel scared or overwhelmed after a crash, and this is completely normal.
Human beings are hard-wired to react in a way that helps us survive in dangerous situations. This may mean feeling scared after a traumatic event like a car accident, even if we understand that we weren’t injured while it’s happening.
If you ever find yourself feeling scared after such an event, take heart in knowing that it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you – it’s just your body responding naturally for your protection.
Phobias and Psychological Disorders Following an Automobile Accident
There are many phobias and disorders associated with driving, cars and automobiles including:
- Amaxophobia – (Fear of being a passenger in a car) Amaxophobia (or hamaxophobia) is an anxiety disorder that causes dread and panic when you drive or sit in a vehicle, such as a car, bus, or plane.
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – A type of anxiety disorder that can be triggered by a traumatic event such as a serious car accident.
- Panic Attacks – A sudden onset of intense fear that can be triggered by a traumatic event such as a car crash.
- Depression – A type of mood disorder that can be caused by the trauma associated with a car accident, or the resulting physical injuries and financial stress.
- Vehephobia – (Fear of Driving) Vehophobia is a specific phobia that involves the intense, irrational fear of driving. This type of anxiety can be triggered by a traumatic experience associated with vehicles, certain places, or particular events.
- Megalophobia – (Fear of Large Objects, Semi-Trucks, Buses) Individuals suffering from megalophobia, an anxiety disorder, will experience extreme fear when confronted with large objects such as skyscrapers and monuments; animals like horses or elephants; and vehicles of any size. The phobia may also cause panic attacks in some people if these massive items are encountered unexpectedly.
- Motorcyclophobia – (Fear of riding on a motorcycle) Motorcyclophobia is a fear of riding on motorcycles, which manifests itself with apprehension and dread. It has been identified as one of the most widespread vehicle-related phobias in existence today. The primary reasons for its development are crashing and potential injury from accidents while operating a motorcycle – an outcome that many find too daunting to face even once let alone multiple times. This can lead those afflicted by motorcyclophobia to avoid doing so at all costs.
- Fanariphobia – (Fear of traffic lights) It’s common for people to suffer from Fanariphobia, the fear of traffic lights; it is often accompanied by symptoms such as elevated heart rate and panic attacks.
- Phonophobia – (Fear of loud noises) An irrational and unfounded fear of sound that lingers is referred to as phonophobia. Everyday environmental sounds such as traffic, kitchen noises, shutting doors, or even high-pitched speech are often considered feared despite being incapable of causing any harm.
- Hyperacusis – (Sensitivity to Noise) Sufferers of Hyperacusis must endure a profoundly distressing affliction, as they experience an intense and often unbearable sensitivity to sound. Many noises that are considered average or even quiet can become agonizingly loud for those with hyperacusis.
- Dystychiphobia – (Fear of all forms of accidents) Have you ever heard of dystychiphobia? This is an intense phobia of accidents. Those who suffer from dystychiphobia experience deep-seated anxiety when they think about being in a situation where they may be involved in an accident, even if the chances are highly unlikely. As such, individuals with this fear tend to stay away from activities and places that could potentially lead to hazardous situations.
You may have trouble sleeping and may experience nightmares or flashbacks of the accident
Sleep disturbances are unfortunately a common after-effect of trauma. Nightmares and flashbacks may be the most familiar symptoms, however, other factors such as sleep pacing (waking in waves throughout the night) or hypersomnia (oversleeping) can occur as well.
Although these symptoms can lead to further exhaustion and physical discomfort, there are ways to address them that you should explore with your doctor. Treatment options may range from medications to lifestyle changes such as adjusting your diet and environment before bedtime, making sure to exercise regularly, and avoiding caffeine or alcohol in the evenings.
Taking steps to proactively address any sleeping difficulties is the best way towards kicking the post-traumatic disturbance back into gear and finding equilibrium once more.
You may feel angry, frustrated, and helpless, especially if your car was damaged in the accident
After experiencing a car accident, it is not uncommon to feel angry, frustrated, and helpless. Grieving the damage done to your car can be a long process that is compounded by stress and worry. However, it’s important to take things day-by-day to cope most effectively.
If possible, try to remain calm as you focus on figuring out your steps ahead; leaving the accident behind and going through the proper channels of insurance or court is probably best in the end. Remember that while dealing with this situation can be difficult at times, being aware of your emotions will ultimately better equip you for handling this tough circumstance with composure and confidence.
It is important to talk to someone about what happened, whether it is a friend, family member, therapist, or support group
Talking to someone about what has happened can be a daunting task, but it is paramount for mental wellness. Friends and family offer comfort and a sense of belonging, while therapists and support groups provide a secure and non-judgmental environment.
Whomever you choose to talk to ultimately comes down to personal preference. A conversation with an understanding acquaintance like a teacher or neighbor may also suffice until you are ready to share with someone closer, like a trusted friend or loved one.
All in all, talking about what has happened helps relieve the tension that can accumulate by bottling up emotions–leaving those feeling open and relieved enough to move on from the difficult experience.
Seek professional help if you are having difficulty functioning in your everyday life
Many of us have days where we feel like our stress levels are higher than usual and have difficulty managing our commitments. If you find yourself consistently feeling overwhelmed by everyday life, then seeking professional help is an important step to take.
A qualified therapist can help you discover potential solutions through a safe and supportive environment. Counselors and psychologists are trained to assist in identifying underlying causes while providing practical strategies for managing stress, developing new coping mechanisms, and acquiring the necessary mindset to get your life back on track.
Don’t be afraid to reach out if you’re having difficulty functioning this way; taking the initiative toward getting better can make all the difference.
Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatizing experience, even if you were not seriously injured. It is normal to feel scared, anxious, angry and frustrated after an accident.
If you are having trouble sleeping or functioning in your everyday life, it is important to seek professional help. Talking to someone about what happened can also be helpful.
If you have been injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be struggling with the physical and emotional pain of your injuries. Get the compensation you deserve by contacting our experienced car accident lawyers at Goldberg & Loren at 1-800-731-4878 or fill out the form for a free consultation.
Beck, J. G., & Coffey, S. F. (2007). Assessment and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder after a motor vehicle collision: Empirical findings and clinical observations. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 38(6), 629–639. https://doi.org/10.1037/0735-7028.38.6.629
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020). Post-traumatic stress disorder: Symptoms. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2022). Specific Phobias. In Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/specific-phobias/symptoms-causes/syc-20355156