Published on October 24, 2023

Dealing with PTSD after a Car Accident

A car accident is a traumatic experience, even if you have sustained minor wounds like scratches and bruises, but especially with more serious conditions like fractures. Car accidents, though, can result in more damage than simply physical harm. After an incident, it is normal for individuals to go through a range of emotions, like anxiety, anger, concern, and sadness, for months and even more. In some cases, these feelings can persist for a longer period. It may even lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In fact, PTSD is a serious side effect of car accidents that affects 25–33% of survivors.

This condition can lead to difficulties, including challenges at work, struggles in maintaining relationships, and even the possibility of substance misuse. It’s crucial to recognize that your feelings are legitimate, and you have every right to seek assistance for the suffering and anguish caused by the car accident. Thankfully, there are treatment approaches for PTSD. In this article, we will explore four strategies for managing and coping with PTSD.

Start therapy sessions

Seeking counseling is an effective approach to addressing and healing PTSD. A skilled therapist can provide assistance in comprehending your symptoms and devising coping mechanisms. Moreover, counseling offers a space where you can navigate through your experiences and sort out your emotions. Taking the step of consulting a therapist can greatly contribute to your journey towards recovery.

Many PTSD car accident survivors select cognitive behavioral therapy to treat underlying anxiety symptoms and manage flashbacks or nightmares about the tragedy. But taking the step to actually seek help might take some courage and you should make it easy on yourself. Start by searching for local therapists. For instance, if you live in San Francisco, do a thorough research of the market, find the best Bay Area therapists available, and get in contact with them. Ask for the type of treatment they are offering, their approach and methods if there is a possibility to start with cognitive behavioral therapy, and how long the treatment is. Once you find the right therapist, you may begin the healing process that will lead you to achieve a healthier and fulfilling life. 

Practice mindfulness exercises

Mindfulness exercises, such as writing in a journal and meditating, can often help people cope with PTSD symptoms. You would probably need to learn how to stop and evaluate what situation caused your anxiety during the day or provoked a flashback. You may improve your ability to avoid or, in some situations, manage triggers as you learn to identify them. Some people find that meditation helps them discover a peaceful place inside themselves, while others choose to express their anger and fears via journaling. Working with a therapist might help you come up with new ideas or uncover the ideal coping approach for you.

Take defensive driving lessons to regain your confidence

It may be difficult to regain confidence behind the wheel after being involved in a car accident, and this is especially true for people suffering from PTSD. As a result, taking defensive driving lessons after an accident might be beneficial. These seminars might help you refresh your understanding of traffic laws and get practical driving experience. They can also assist you in regaining your confidence and refreshing your safe driving practices. 

Seek comfort from your loved ones 

Having someone by your side might help you deal with these situations. If you usually attend your daughter’s basketball games alone, and you’re having trouble driving to the stadium, you may ask your spouse to join you. Make an effort to explain your demands to your loved ones. Request that they let you lead the discussion and that they support you without pressuring you to do anything you are not ready to do. Inform your friends that you still want to go out but may need more assistance than normal.

In addition, if you know you have the support of a loved one, create a safe phrase that will notify them if you start to struggle. Make it a casual remark or phrase that will alert them to the fact that you have a problem, whether it is a growing flashback or increased concern. A safe word might also help you deal with angry outbursts towards family members in the aftermath of the tragedy. When a loved one shouts the safe word, you know you’ve gotten out of control and need to settle down.

Final thoughts

Suffering from PTSD after a car accident is tough to comprehend and manage. Try to be objective about your emotional recovery and general functionality following this stressful occurrence. Don’t put off seeking assistance since driving anxiety and PTSD may have a huge impact on your life. The longer you wait to get help, the longer these symptoms will linger and perhaps worsen. Most of the time, a combination of talk therapy and medication can help reduce the symptoms of PTSD.


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