Why a Car Accident Impacts Mental Health
Even the most minor car accidents can really shake us up – and for good reason. They can call into question our basic sense of safety. It’s also easy to think about the “what ifs” – “What if I had been going faster?” “What if I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt?” What if I hadn’t been running a few minutes late?” It’s easy and a natural part of the process to have these types of questions running through your mind. It’s also common, as a result of what happened, to start worrying that it could happen again.
Even if no one was physically injured, sometimes MVAs can impact our mental health in a significant way, including our overall outlook, how we cope with stress, how motivated or energized we feel, as well as our mood. There are many good reasons for this, and sometimes a negative feedback system can be created, where a change in one area causes a negative snowball effect. From there, it’s easy to get stuck and not know what to do.
Signs and symptoms that it’s time to reach out for help:
- You are having a hard time getting to sleep or staying asleep
- The accident keeps replaying in your head
- You have noticed impacts on your relationship, such as withdrawing, feeling irritable or snappy
- You have less energy or motivation
- Self-care has gone down or feels like a struggle
- Normal parts of your day, like going to work or getting groceries, seem overwhelming
- You feel more negative or hopeless about the future
- You’ve been avoiding getting in a car or driving all together
- Anxiety or stress have crept into your life
- Things that used to bring you joy or pleasure don’t quite feel the same
- You feel more tearful, numb, on edge, or moody
- Other people have noticed a change in you
Really, if there have been changes since the accident that are impacting your thinking, behaviour, relationships, or commitments (such as attending work), then they are likely serious enough to warrant professional help.
Feel Like Yourself Again
The good news is, any one of these symptoms can be addressed and treated. You don’t need to suffer, and the sooner you get the support you need, the better your recovery is likely to go. And then you can get back to doing the things you love to do and feel like yourself again.
As of April 1st 2019, if you are in a car accident, regardless of fault, you will be entitled to 12 pre-approved sessions within the first 12 weeks following an accident (covered by ICBC for BC drivers). So don’t wait until things are really bad, because treatment is much more manageable when symptoms are mild.