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Are there psychological effects from a car accident?

Being in a car accident can have multiple consequences, and bodily injury and property damage are not the only ones. It is also common for victims of a crash to experience some level of psychological response. 

According to Psychology Today, a common response to an accident is psychological shock. This does not happen to everyone, and those who are more prone to have anxiety are at higher risk. Some of the symptoms associated with this type of shock include 

  • A spike in adrenaline 
  • Fogginess 
  • Tightness in the chest 
  • Intense anger 
  • Disconnect or out-of-body feeling 
  • Feelings of physical sickness or nervousness 

These are signs of the body’s fight-or-flight response, and it is best to take a moment to settle down before doing anything. The good news is psychological shock is temporary, and symptoms should dissipate within a few hours. 

Long-term psychological effects from an accident

While shock wears off for accident victims, overpowering feelings do not always subside after an accident. This can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, and it is not uncommon. Certain people are at higher risk of PTSD. These include those who have another mental disorder, who have been a victim of a previous traumatic incident, who sustain an injury from the crash and who experience a lack of support following the accident. 

The symptoms of PTSD can have long-lasting and serious consequences. Victims may have trouble adjusting to daily life, begin to use alcohol or drugs, have difficulty sleeping or have suicidal thoughts. Medication, therapy and behavior modification can help someone with PTSD return to living a normal life. 

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