Beyond any physical injuries, a car accident can affect your mental health, leaving you feeling anxious long after the crash itself. Anxiety is an extremely common mental condition that affects 40 million Americans annually.
While this is an unfortunate statistic, it can be comforting to know that you are not alone. Further, since anxiety is so common, there is a wealth of resources and treatments that you can draw on to make yourself feel better.
Read on for a few tips on how to recover from an auto accident.
Exercise is a well-documented way to boost your mood. This is because physical activity releases chemicals in your brain, like serotonin, that can make you feel happier.
A half-hour session of exercise every day could help you improve your physical health as well, which is important if you were hospitalized after the accident. Of course, always check with a doctor to see what exercises are suitable for you before you start working out if you’ve experienced an injury.
Exercise will not cure your anxiety, but it can distract you and improve your mood in the short-term. Think of it as treating the symptoms of anxiety, not the cause, though it can still be a crucial part of your overall path to recovery.
Maintain a Clear Routine
Another good strategy to limit the amount of anxiety that you feel during your day-to-day life is by maintaining a clear routine. Stress following an auto accident can disrupt your life and prevent you from engaging with friends, colleagues, and family members. A routine will ensure that you are still in contact with the people who care about you and prevents feelings of isolation, which can compound your anxiety.
As a part of your routine, ensure that you are getting at least eight hours of sleep each night. A lack of sleep is another contributing factor to anxiety: people with insomnia are 17 times more likely to suffer from clinical anxiety.
Reduce Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption
If you’ve experienced trauma, you are more likely to abuse alcohol. Alcohol can reduce your brain’s serotonin levels, which can lead to stronger feelings of anxiety in addition to the other health risks associated with alcohol dependency.
In a similar vein, you will also want to reduce your caffeine intake if you experience anxiety after a car accident. While caffeine is not as dangerous as a health risk as alcohol, it is a stimulant that can aggravate your anxiety. Excessive caffeine consumption can also negatively affect your sleep schedule.
Take Driving Courses
Another way you can tackle your anxiety following a car crash is by taking driving classes. A defensive driving course will teach you how to handle risky situations caused by other drivers. A defensive driving course will allow you to do something tangible to ensure you don’t go through it again.
Get a New Vehicle
Depending on how much damage your car experienced in the accident, you may have already done this. But if it was only slightly damaged, you should consider replacing your vehicle.
Anxiety can be triggered by returning to the site where you experienced trauma, and since you use your car every day, you may be triggering panic attacks exceptionally often. Replacing your vehicle can erase that connection – and it gives you the chance to upgrade to a safer, more substantial vehicle, like an SUV.
Talk to a Mental Health Professional
Anxiety can take a physical toll on your body. If you’ve been experiencing acute symptoms of anxiety, like panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or heart palpitations, you should talk to your family doctor about getting a referral to a mental health professional.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, will not give you a silver-bullet solution to your problems, however. Instead, a therapist will get you to examine your feelings so that you can get a deeper understanding of your anxiety. Therapy will help you think rationally about your feelings and develop coping mechanisms to improve your mood.
Of course, in some cases, your therapist or doctor may determine that medication is the right course of treatment for you. Anti-anxiety medication will not solve all your problems, however, and should usually be taken while you continue CBT.
Talk to a Lawyer
One of the best ways to combat the anxiety that you can feel after a car accident is to get closure on the accident itself. If you were hit by another driver who was at fault, you might have a legal case against them beyond what their insurance covers.
In many cases, you can seek compensation for the anxiety and pain you are experiencing. You can contact a lawyer for auto accident to build your case. You can use the money you get in your settlement to help pay your medical bills, including the cost of long-term therapy.
There is a Path to Recover from an Auto Accident
The worst thing that you can do following a car accident is to give in to your anxiety. If you stop driving, you close yourself off from a large part of your regular life.
No matter how serious a car accident you went through, know that your feelings of anxiety are entirely warranted. They are also treatable, and with the right combination of the above strategies, you can recover from an auto accident.
For more information on all things auto, check out the rest of our blog!