Sometimes, the detrimental effects of an accident are not tangible.

While physical injuries are readily identified and easily treated, the emotional impact of a trauma can take time to manifest. Depression, low mood, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can do as much damage to a victim as a physical injury, and often can have much longer-lasting complications.

What Is It?

Due to the rush of adrenaline, most victims of an accident feel the immediate symptoms of shock: anxiety, fear, anger, or even guilt. Normally, these feeling subside once the hormones dissipate. In some cases, however the agitation, frustration, and low mood that result from the incident can linger, or even intensify.

Symptoms of emotional distress include:

  • Chronic or magnified anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Disproportionate anger or guilt
  • Flashbacks
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Loss of appetite

Sometimes, the psychological symptoms can have physical manifestations. These can include:

  • Panic attacks
  • Headaches
  • Confusion or memory issues
  • Muscular aches
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive issues
  • High blood pressure

How to Respond

Managing the impacts of mental trauma, such as low mood, can be difficult and time consuming. It’s important to recognize the symptoms and seek diagnosis and treatment from licensed health professionals. Sometimes, these symptoms can indicate a much more serious problem.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is a severe and persistent anxiety disorder that results from from experiencing a trauma. Commonly associated with soldiers and victims of war, it is also a frequent consequence of serious motor vehicle accidents, referred to as Motor Vehicle Accident PTSD (MVA-PTSD).

The unexpected and instantaneous nature of an accident causes everyone involved to experience a rush of terror, and at least a momentary threat of danger. Combined with the physical damages, these heightened emotional states can have a lasting impact on a victim’s mental state.

Symptoms of MVA-PTSD can include recurring nightmares (usually recalling the accident), sleeplessness, agitation, or irritability that last for more than one month. Depression, low mood, and avoidance of social situations are also common responses. Physical symptoms, such as chronic pain, headaches, or gastro-intestinal discomfort can trigger MVA-PTSD, as well.

Any of these symptoms can appear immediately, or may take months to show up, which means that sufferers might not relate them to the original accident. A physician, especially a mental health professional, can identify and diagnose MVA-PTSD; he or she can begin therapy and medication as soon as possible, and may suggest long-term treatment.

Read more about Emotional Consequences of a Car Crash.

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