Is It All In Your Head? Mental And Emotional Trauma Following A Car Accident

Posted on: 3 June 2015


Automobile accidents can be very scary situations. It does not matter if you see the accident coming, or if you are hit by someone that you do not see. Along with your physical injuries, you may also incur mental and emotional trauma as well. Sometimes, mental and emotional trauma can be even more difficult to recover from than your physical injuries. If you have been injured in an auto accident, this trauma is something that you will want to discuss with your attorney.

What Is Mental and Emotional Trauma?

After your accident, you may find yourself with a wide range of emotions that you are not able to explain. You may burst into tears with no provocation, get angry at something that would not have fazed you prior to the accident, or experienced other symptoms, including:

  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of interest in food
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Insomnia or other sleep disturbances

You may find yourself unable to drive, or unable to ride with others. All of these symptoms can have a direct impact upon your daily life, but they are usually short-lived and will dissipate following the accident.

When you have experienced some, or all of these symptoms, they are usually filed in your personal injury case under pain and suffering. But what happens when your mental and emotional trauma will not go away? This is when you should ask your doctor if you could possibly be suffering from a traumatic brain injury or post traumatic stress disorder.

What Is A Traumatic Brain Injury?

In most car accidents, you have some type of injury that involves your head. Your head will often come in contact with one or more of the following:

  • Window
  • Dash
  • Steering Wheel
  • Windshield

Even if you do not strike your head against one of these barriers during the accident, the impact from the collision is often hard enough to cause your brain to be jarred within your skull, or cause traumatic brain injury. For many people, this may manifest itself as a simple concussion. The signs and symptoms that are experienced are relatively mild, and will quickly be resolved.

Unfortunately, there are cases in which you may not suffer symptoms immediately, or they may not resolve themselves. You may experience some type of damage for the rest of your life. This is often hard to diagnose, because you often are unaware of the changes that have taken place in your personality, and your demeanor. If your friends and family are concerned that you are not yourself following your accident, you should seek medical care. Let your physician know that you were involved in an auto accident, even if the accident occurred months ago.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Another condition that may explain some of the mental and emotional signs and symptoms you see following an automobile accident is post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is a condition which is commonly seen in soldiers following combat, but car accidents are the leading cause for this in civilians. Studies have also gone on to show that this is more prevalent in women than it is in men. If you suffer from PTSD, you may experience:

  • Problems driving, or riding with others
  • General sense of uneasiness or doom
  • Flashbacks, nightmares, or insomnia
  • Feelings of guilt, worry, depression, or anger
  • Feelings of being out of control

If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist, it is important that you seek medical help so that you can be treated.

What Should You Do?

If you suspect that you have suffered mental and emotional trauma as a result of your automobile accident, make sure any treatment is clearly documented in your records. Not only will this increase the amount you will be eligible to recover under your medical expenses, but it may open the door for you to file a claim for other symptoms which may crop up later. Your auto accident or personal injury attorney will be able to help you to structure your case so that you will receive the compensation you are entitled to.