Car accidents can have life-altering and severe implications. While physical injuries, such as broken bones and concussions, are most commonly thought of, they are not the only type of injury that an individual may sustain from a car accident. There are also several emotional and psychological injuries that may result, and it is important to be aware about what this may look like.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

It is very common for individuals who have been in a car accident to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a psychiatric condition that an individual may develop after experiencing or witnessing of a traumatic event. According to the National Center for PTSD, about 6% of the U.S. population will suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives. Some symptoms of PTSD include, but are not limited to:

  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Avoidance of triggering places or people
  • Differences in mood and behavior
  • Hyperarousal
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Re-experiencing the event through flashbacks or nightmares
  • Irritability

Everyone’s experience with PTSD is different in scope and scale. Some individuals may experience PTSD for only a few days or weeks while others may experience it for years. Fortunately, many medical advances have been made to help victims of PTSD cope with the condition, whether it is through psychological therapy or prescription medication. If left untreated, those suffering from PTSD may experience life-long symptoms and even further health implications.

Driving Anxiety

Another psychological effect that one may experience after a car accident is driving anxiety, also known as vehophobia. Often categorized as a symptom of PTSD, vehophobia is the fear of driving. It is most commonly caused by a traumatic experience associated with driving, such as a car accident. Closely related to vehophobia is amaxophobia, which is the fear of being in a vehicle. Individuals who suffer from either of these phobias may experience panic attacks, increased heart rates, nausea, shortness of breath, and more. These symptoms can result from being in, thinking of, or seeing a vehicle. Fortunately, there are treatments for these phobias, such as exposure therapy and anti-anxiety medications.

Major Depressive Disorder

It is not uncommon for car accident victims to suffer from major depressive disorder (MDD). MDD causes individuals to have persistent and intense feelings of sadness. Some symptoms include:

  • Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Recurring suicidal thoughts
  • Increased agitation
  • Slowed thinking
  • Loss in appetite
  • Lack of enjoyment in normal activities

Victims may experience MDD for a multitude of reasons. For example, a car accident victim may experience depression due to the overwhelming emotions associated with survivor’s guilt, in which another individual passed away during the incident while you survived. Treating depression is a crucial step in the psychological healing process following a car accident.  

Difficulty Sleeping

Another psychological effect that one may experience is difficulty sleeping. This restlessness and insomnia can be caused by the intense overstimulation of neurochemicals, such as epinephrine and adrenaline, in your brain. After a car accident, your brain may be in overdrive as it tries to protect you from future danger. As a result, you may find yourself unable to truly relax as your body is in a constant “fight or flight” state. A lack of sleep can take a toll on your body, causing a whole array of other health problems. If you are experiencing difficulty sleeping as the result of a car accident, it is advised to speak with a doctor to help address this issue.

Receiving Compensation for Emotional and Psychological Suffering

Most people think about the legalities associated with physical injuries resulting from a car accident, but what about “invisible injuries” such as emotional and psychological suffering? While not as visible or easy to measure, you may be able to receive compensation for these non-economic damages. A Van Nuys car accident lawyer can help explain the nuances of emotional and psychological damages in a car accident claim.