People do not always consider car accidents traumatic events, but there is the potential for significant psychological impact following a car wreck. While the physical body may not have visible scarring or deep wounds, the mind is different.
Traumatic memories may bring long-term damage to an individual’s emotional and mental health, potentially noticed in conditions like depression or anxiety. Although often untalked about, psychological injuries often accompany car accidents.
Damage to the brain
Chemical connections, networks of neurons and complex hormone levels impact how the human mind operates. Unfortunately, a disturbance from a traumatic event can wreak havoc with the delicate balance of its workings. During an accident, the levels of cortisol produced by the body increase, which typically leads to an enhanced perception or experience of panic and stress. Although the mind is able to calm itself and the body down after a period of time, it is likely that the anxiety and stress responses will take months or longer to subside. These delayed reactions impact a person’s psychological health.
Symptoms of psychological distress
It could take months before the psychological impact of a car accident is evident. These are some of the symptoms that may arise during that time.
- Mood swings between guilt, frustration or anger
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Inability to find enjoyment in everyday activities or hobbies
- Disrupted sleep patterns, nightmares or insomnia
- New phobias and anxieties
Over time, these symptoms can progress. As this occurs, a person’s quality of life deteriorates.
Remember that mental health or psychological injuries are just as important as physical ones. A car accident has the potential to cause both types of injuries.