In the aftermath of a car crash, people are often focused on healing from their physical injuries and dealing with the damage to their vehicle. It can be easy to neglect the psychological damage that may have resulted from the accident.
In fact, it's been estimated that approximately 9 percent of people who've been in vehicle crashes develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some 60 percent of victims who seek the help of a mental health professional are diagnosed with PTSD.
Interestingly, those who've studied car accident victims have found that it's not the severity of the crash or the injuries that most determine whether they develop PTSD. It's more dependent on how a person perceived or responded to the crash. In one study, the strongest predictor of PTSD was determined to be whether someone thought they could have been killed.
How a person responds in the aftermath of an accident can also be a predictor of PTSD. For example, if a person is afraid to drive again or fears being in the area where the crash occurred, these thoughts and avoidance behaviors can contribute to the risk of PTSD. Other risk factors include having suffered previous traumatic events or having an individual or family history of psychological issues.
Emotional support from loved ones after a crash can lower the risk of developing PTSD. However, professional psychological help may be necessary as well.
It's natural to be more fearful and cautious about driving or even riding in a car after a crash. However, if these fears and anxieties continue, and you find yourself unable to get back to your previous activities, it's wise to seek the help of a therapist. Whether you have PTSD or not, a mental health professional can help you process and deal with your feelings.
If you're seeking compensation from an at-fault driver for medical treatment, don't forget to include the cost of psychological treatment as well. That can be every bit as essential as receiving treatment and therapy for your physical injuries.