When you’re involved in an accident, your life can change overnight. For instance, you might not be able to perform routine tasks like house chores, going to the gym, walking your dog in the park, and going to work. When your whole daily routine changes abruptly, it’s unsurprising that your mental health will take a hit. According to a study by the NAH (National Accident Helpline), roughly three out of five people experienced mental health problems due to accidents. One-third of those surveyed had anxiety and stress, and most had insomnia.
To recover from mental trauma after an accident, you should have a sound support system, including family members and friends. It might be difficult at first, so don’t isolate yourself. Keep in mind that you’re not alone, and you have people with whom you can express your thoughts. Also, in this review, we’ve compiled a list of 5 ways to improve your mental health after an accident. These tips will help you recover and feel better about yourself.
Types of Mental Trauma Following an Accident
Before we look at the 5 ways to improve your mental health after an accident, let’s first look at the common types of mental trauma people experience due to accidents.
Feeling anxious about finances to cover medical bills, missing out on work, or simply getting into a vehicle are common issues among people who’ve suffered accidents. Anxiety can cause panic attacks which can manifest mentally and physically. When panic attacks manifest physically, they can cause chest pains, dizziness, nausea, shaking, shortness of breath, etc.
When feelings of anxiety manifest mentally, you can experience feelings of disorientation, especially when you enter a vehicle. These feelings can worsen when you’re on the highway because vehicles are moving fast or when you drive past your point of accident. Feelings of anxiety in such an instance come up because your brain is reminded of the accident, which causes your body to react in a “fight or flight” manner. Fortunately, feelings of anxiety can be managed via medication or speaking to a mental health professional.
The second mental health problem experienced by accident victims is depression, also known as MDD (major depressive disorder). Unfortunately, not many people accept the impact feelings of depression have on various aspects of their lives. After an accident, you should be aware of and don’t dismiss symptoms like fatigue, headaches, nervousness, phobias, etc. Pain and/or physical injuries following an accident can also worsen feelings of depression. Why? Because people tend to think about what others will think of them when they see their scars. Depression can lead to indulgent behaviors like alcoholism, hard drugs, and vaping.
The third mental health problem experienced by accident victims is dissociation. This mental disorder makes individuals feel disconnected from their bodies and thoughts. A traumatic event like an accident can separate you from your surroundings; at times, you might feel like you’re in a dream. You can also feel mentally and physically numb and cultivate the belief that you never suffered an accident. Dissociation is one of the brain’s self-defense mechanisms against stress. Unfortunately, this can take a toll on your brain because it will hinder you from processing the trauma from the accident, meaning you can’t recover.
The fourth mental health problem experienced by accident victims is insomnia. Lacking sleep is a major complaint among people who have been involved in accidents. While getting at least seven hours of sleep daily is essential, it’s not always possible when your thoughts are racing. Sleep is an integral part of your recovery journey, but the pain and trauma following an accident can make it difficult to sleep and cause you to have restless nights. This is known as insomnia, and it affects virtually all aspects of your life because your body has low energy levels, and you experience feelings of physical and mental fatigue.
PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
The fifth mental health problem experienced by accident victims is PTSD. When you experience an accident, the trauma can fade away, but since these feelings are there, sometimes, they can become strong enough to overwhelm you and change your thoughts and actions. Any recurring dreams or thoughts about your accident are signs of PTSD. According to a study by Heretohelp.ca, one out of ten people involved in accidents experiences PTSD. The risk of PTSD comprises various factors such as the type of accident and damage it caused as well as the economic, legal and social repercussions of the accident. For instance, a driver who feels responsible for the death of another party is likely to develop PTSD.
5 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health
In this section of our discussion, we’ll look at the 5 ways to improve your mental health after an accident; these five ways include:
Take Your Time
The first pick on 5 ways to improve your mental health following an accident is taking as much time as you need to deal with the effects of the accident. Some people recover quicker from accidents than others, even when they’ve been involved in major accidents. However, this doesn’t mean that you should speed up your recovery with things like painkillers or a Botox injection, even if it’s taking long. After an accident, it’s better to take each day as it comes and focus on getting better. You might need months or years to fully recover and get back to your routine, and if you speed this up, the effects will manifest later on.
Understand That Feeling Down is Normal
The second pick on 5 ways to improve your mental health following an accident is understanding that it’s okay to feel bummed. Feeling down due to injuries from accidents is normal because you won’t be able to do your usual tasks.
Feeling bummed about your injuries and the long path to mental and physical recovery isn’t a negative reflection of your character because the things you love to do, such as working out, going on vacations, playing with your kids, etc., have been taken away from you.
However, you should know that omission from the things you love is temporary. Don’t allow any negative thoughts into your mind; when you diligently put in the work as per your doctor’s advice, you should be able to recover. Knowing that things will eventually go back to what they used to be can be a morale booster for some people.
Eating well is the third pick on 5 ways to improve your mental health following an accident. Nutrition can indeed play a significant role in your mental health after an accident because what you eat affects your concentration, energy levels, and feelings. A study by the MHF (Mental Health Foundation) found that people who ate cereals, fruits, healthy fats, legumes, nuts, proteins, and veggies after an accident saw a reduced rate of their depression.
This might be because most of these foods are fiber-rich and have complex carbs. Carbohydrates are the body’s primary energy source and are available as simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs are present in processed sugars like cakes, jam, sweets, and sodas. After eating simple carbs, you might need to visit a dentist to get your teeth fixed, but also your blood sugar will rise significantly, making you feel irritable and fatigued. Complex carbs, on the other hand, release energy slowly, which helps regulate your mood. Also, they are rich in minerals and vitamins, which promote mental and physical health. The best dentist to see in this scenario would be a cosmetic dentist.
Get Adequate Sleep
Getting enough sleep is the fourth pick of 5 ways to improve your mental health following an accident. Sleep is as vital to your mental and physical well-being as breathing and eating. Why? Because it gives your brain and body enough time to recover and heal, making it very important if you’ve suffered an accident. If you don’t get enough sleep, you might experience feelings of anxiety and depression or MDD (major depressive disorder).
Many people struggle with insomnia following an accident; if you’re one of them, you can do a couple of things to help you sleep; for starters, you should have a consistent sleeping routine. If you sleep at 10 PM and wake up at 7 AM, ensure you always do this. If you’re mobile, you can have a soak in your hot tub; this helps relax your body. Also, wash your face with a facial cleanser every night before you sleep. This not only removes impurities from your face but also relieves your face, and you go to bed feeling fresh, which can help you sleep.
Talk to Someone
Talking to someone is the fifth pick on 5 ways to improve your mental health following an accident. However, this section is split into different categories:
A Loved One
One of the 5 ways to improve your mental health is talking to someone and, most importantly, a loved one. Everyone is guilty of hiding their feelings, which makes opening up important so that you get the support you need. Whether that loved one is a spouse, relative, or friend, you can speak to them and kick any feelings of loneliness to the curb.
Talking about the accident and how you’re feeling will help you release pressure, and it also calms the nerves of your loved ones and gives them a chance to support you. Confiding in your loved ones not only helps lift your mood and reduce stress, but you can also get much-needed help with the tasks you’re struggling with, such as cleaning, doctor appointments, etc.
When opening up to your loved ones, you don’t need to organize a sit-down talk; it’s often easier to engage in sensitive topics when they’re cleverly brought up in a typical conversation. Keep in mind that you don’t have to share everything with them; only talk about what you want to with them, and you can share everything once you’re comfortable doing it.
A Mental Health Expert
After an accident, you should also speak to a mental health expert, like a psychologist, to improve your mental health. A psychologist can recommend steps to reach full mental recovery and tips to help you manage anxiety and depression.
A psychologist will conduct a full mental health analysis on you to determine if you’re suffering from symptoms of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). If you have PTSD, your psychologist can recommend therapies like CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). You don’t need the best psychic reader; therapy should be enough for you.
A Personal Injury Law Professional
After an accident, it’s understandable that you can feel overwhelmed because of everything that’s happened. For instance, you have physical injuries to worry about, doctor and physiotherapy appointments, and all other typical obligations. Due to missed working days and medical bills, you will also have significant cash flow concerns.
This can cause you to experience anxiety and depression. However, if you were in an accident due to the negligence of another party, you can consult an accident injury attorney. An accident injury attorney will advise you on how to get compensation from the negligent party, including suing them and their insurance provider.
You should not bear the financial and emotional burden due to another party’s negligence. An accident attorney has numerous years of experience dealing with such matters, so they can help reduce your anxiety and stress, which will improve your mental health. Unlike a doctor or psychologist, a personal injury attorney won’t heal your mind or body, but the compensation they get will allow you to get the help you need.
In conclusion, accidents can cause much more than bruises and fractures; they also result in mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. The key to handling these issues is not to underestimate their severity and to get the help you need. Therefore, you can follow the 5 ways to improve your mental health listed above to get better.