Car Accidents & Anxiety – What To Do When It Happens To You

No one reacts to stress in the same exact manner. This is especially true after a car accident. One person may go into shock and start crying. Another may become outraged their car is damaged and yell at the other driver. It’s hard to know how you’ll react until it happens to you.

Immediately after an accident, you’ll be overwhelmed. Adrenaline is surging, so you may not notice you’re hurting. There’s another aspect to consider. Anxiety may set in. It can happen immediately or days later. Anxiety, specifically post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may manifest after several months. If it does, you need to see a doctor.

Four Steps to Follow After a Crash

After you’re in a car crash, call the police. You need an accident report. While state laws often say you don’t have to bother if the damage is under a specific amount of money, it’s hard to know exactly how much damage you have to your car. A dent in a bumper may seem minimal, but there could be damage that you can’t see. Plus, a new bumper, the cost of mounting that bumper, and the paint job can add up to far more money than you’d expect.

When you’re asked if you’d like to go to the hospital, say yes. You may feel okay now, but when the adrenaline wears off, you could be in a lot of pain. Whiplash is a common injury after a car accident. It can take a couple of days for that injury to appear. If you’ve seen a doctor, you’ve already established a medical report related to the car crash that can be updated and used in your claim.

Follow the doctor’s orders when you get home. If the doctor says you have a concussion and shouldn’t work for a week, stay home. Don’t worry about the loss of income. Lost income is something you can recover from the auto insurance coverage.

Don’t put off seeking follow-up treatments. If your doctor says to return if you experience a new pain, make sure you do. If you wake up two days later and you have a stiff neck, don’t assume you slept wrong. Go back to the doctor and be checked out. Again, auto insurance covers medical bills. Don’t let the fear of the expensive medical bills keep you from seeking care.

The Facts About Anxiety Disorders After a Car Crash

Anxiety disorders affect more than 18% of the adult population in the U.S. It’s estimated that 40 million adults experience one of the forms. Post-traumatic stress disorder isn’t the most common form, but it is very prevalent with around 7.7 men and women in the U.S. experiencing it.

Car crashes are one of the many reasons why PTSD may suddenly appear in your life. It usually presents itself in one of four ways: flashbacks/nightmares, isolation from others, avoidance of people/areas associated with the car accident, or personality/physical changes such as insomnia or increased agitation/anger.

Not everyone gets PTSD following a car accident. Those who do are usually in a car crash with serious or life-threatening injuries. They may have a family history of anxiety. They may not have had a lot of support from friends or family members after the accident.

How Do You Know if Anxiety is Present?

When you drive on the same road where the accident occurred, do you find yourself becoming tense? Does your heart start pounding? Do you find yourself holding your breath or breathing faster than normal? That can be a sign that you’re dealing with anxiety related to the car accident.

If another driver slams on the brakes or honks the horn, do you flinch? Do you grip the steering wheel tighter than normal or drive under the speed limit? Are you always looking for people who aren’t stopping when you would or driving too fast? Anxiety is a normal response, but with PTSD it keeps worsening.

The more you drive, the more these natural responses to the crash will dissipate. With PTSD, the symptoms continue to grow and become disruptive to your life. The earlier you seek treatment, the easier the anxiety is to manage.

What Do You Do to Get Help?

If you find yourself experiencing any of the signs of PTSD, see a doctor. Left untreated, anxiety will not improve. It can increase the risk of clinical depression or suicidal thoughts. Ask your doctor for a referral to a specialist in anxiety.

Medications can be useful in treating anxiety and PTSD, but they’re not the only way to treat this mental condition. There are therapies that can help. These therapies may work on managing anxiety, talking about the trauma you suffered, and slowly exposing you to the PTSD triggering event.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, the insurance company will offer to replace or fix your car. They’ll cover for worked missed immediately after the accident. They’ll push for a settlement before your anxiety may appear. Don’t agree to a rushed settlement offer. PTSD is one reason not to settle.

Months later when you’re dealing with PTSD, you may not have recourse to go back and demand the insurance company cover your new round of medical bills. This is why it’s best to talk to a lawyer before agreeing to the insurance company’s initial offer.

You need an attorney experienced in car accidents. Nick Rowley is an award-winning attorney who boasts the most verdicts in California for four years running. He and his partners have won more than $1.5 billion for their clients. With Carpenter & Zuckerman’s attorneys on your side, you don’t have to avoid getting the help you need to beat PTSD. Contact CZR for a free case evaluation now.

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