After a serious Bristol accident, most victims tend to focus on physical injuries: the broken bones, bruises, lacerations and whiplash. However, the emotional stress of enduring such an accident can be even more severe and long-lasting. Mental and psychological issues can appear weeks or months later and control the victim’s life. Here are common signs of emotional trauma and the types of treatment involved.
Signs of Emotional Trauma
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is especially common after a serious accident. According to the National Institutes of Health, it affects as many as 7 million people in the United States and is characterized by extreme anxiety and flashbacks. The victim may relive the accident over and over, to the point where it affects daily functioning. The victim may be afraid to drive or even ride in a car again. He or she may startle easily and experience insomnia.
Emotional trauma can take the form of:
- crying fits;
- loss of appetite;
- loss of interest in once-favorite hobbies;
- mood swings;
- lack of sex drive; and
A victim also may experience a wide range of emotions, including:
- extreme anger;
- fear; and
Physical symptoms include:
- muscle tension;
- aches and pains;
- racing heartbeat;
- difficulty sleeping; and
- difficulty concentrating.
When to Seek Help
Although some level of emotional damage is common after a traumatic experience such as a car accident, these symptoms should last no longer than several months. After that period, it may be time to seek professional help.
Signs that one should seek professional help include:
- engaging in alcohol or drug abuse;
- extreme or irrational fear, anxiety or grief;
- inability to function normally, such as being unable to perform everyday activities or complete tasks at work;
- frequent flashbacks or nightmares involving the accident; and
- isolation and withdrawal from others.
Types of Treatment for Mental and Psychological Issues
Severe mental and psychological issues require professional help. Seeking help won’t be easy for the victim. In order for therapy or counseling to be effective, the victim must face the memories head-on and bring them out in the open so they can be resolved. This process takes time; therefore, the victim must be patient and quell the desire to rush through it.
During therapy, victims learn how to process their feelings and memories stemming from the accident. They also learn how to regulate their emotions and release pent-up energy. In addition, they learn how to build trust in people so they can form solid relationships.
A serious car accident can cause an imbalance in the body’s nervous system. Therapy helps to regain the body’s balance. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, in conjunction with other therapy methods such as eye movement therapy or somatic experiencing, can help the mind process emotions and help the body heal.
Tips for Victims
After an accident, it is most important for victims to receive the medical attention he or she needs to heal physical wounds. Support from family members and friends is crucial during this time. It is a good idea to stay active and engage in social activities. Having a daily routine can keep a victim from getting stuck in a rut. In addition, healthy habits will help the body cope. Sleep, exercise and a nutritious diet are the key components to better mental health.