Nobody is ever prepared for a car accident because nobody wishes to be involved in one. And while the top causes of car accidents are speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, weather conditions, and so on, accidents may sometimes occur as a result of ill luck. It is estimated that about 6 million car accidents occur in the United States every year, which is a lot.
People experience a myriad of emotions following a car accident. For some, it’s shock, guilt, or grief while others may experience helplessness, confusion, and fear. Some even experience two or more of these feelings at the same time.
The thing is that it’s totally normal to have any of these feelings after a car accident. But when these feelings linger and don’t go away over time, the person is said to have developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD occurs after witnessing a frightening or shocking situation such as a car accident. Symptoms include persistent flashbacks to the frightening event, sleeplessness, irritability, heightened anxiety, moodiness, and not wanting to have medical tests done. And the thing about PTSD is that it affects your day-to-day life and productivity.
According to The Barnes Firm, a car accident lawyer in NYC, experiencing PTSD after a car accident isn’t out of the ordinary. However, it’s important to seek help before the symptoms worsen, and here are five tips for handling post-accident PTSD:
Attend Group Therapy
One of the most effective treatments for PTSD and other psychological difficulties is group therapy. One of the benefits of group therapy is that validation as it shows that there are other people suffering from the same problem.
You are not an anomaly. The symptoms of PTSD can also be normalized as people in the group understand what it’s like to have PTSD. It can be very difficult for a non-PTSD person to understand what the conditions feel like.
Group therapy also offers the opportunity to learn from other people’s experiences and coping strategies. This can improve one’s symptoms and improve mood and productivity. And what’s more, your experience can also be of value to other members of the group.
People with PTSD may be hesitant to start exercising. This is because exercise increases heart rate and may cause shortness of breath which is also associated with anxiety.
But regular exercise can do wonders to improve the symptoms of PTSD. Before doing any exercise, it’s important to be sure one is fit enough to work out and that any injuries that may have occurred during the accidents have healed. A chat with a doctor will reveal which and how much exercise to do.
Exercise improves mood, cardiovascular health, weight loss, and better mobility. People with PTSD are at risk of developing depression and regular exercise can significantly reduce the risks.
Follow-up With Your Doctor
It’s important to follow up with your doctor after treatments following a car accident. For one, PTSD will have to be diagnosed by a doctor and one can’t be sure of having PTSD despite having symptoms without seeing a medical professional. Your doctor will take an active plan in the recovery process and may prescribe medications or make referrals to other health care providers such as a therapist or mental health specialist if necessary.
Try Mindfulness Meditation
Meditation and mindfulness-based relaxation techniques have been shown to help improve the symptoms of PTSD by reducing stress hormones. Effective mindfulness-based treatments include mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).
MBSD is an intensive 8-week program that helps improve PTSD symptoms by teaching people how to avoid getting carried away by intrusive thoughts by improving their focus and attention. There is also meditation relaxation which aims to improve depression symptoms associated with PTSD.
For meditation to be effective, it should be carried out under the guidance of an experienced therapist or guide. You can also work with your therapist to determine if mediation is best for you.
Learn to Be a Defensive Driver
Driving again or even riding in a car after an accident can be extremely difficult. But when you eventually decide to get behind the wheel again, it may help to bring another driver the first time.
This way, the other driver can take over should the experience become too overwhelming. Having someone else in the car can also bring about a sense of safety.
Practicing defensive driving can also help to reduce the risk of future accidents. This involves following safety practices such as wearing a seat belt, avoiding distractions when driving, and never driving when tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.