Over 6.8 percent of the U.S. population lives with some form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on a daily basis. The most common cause of this PTSD? Car accidents. While millions of car accidents take place each year, many of those include hit-and-run accidents between a vehicle and pedestrian.
Being hit by a car is, in itself, a painful and potentially life-altering experience. Not only do most victims go on to live with the physical aftermath of this type of accident, but also the mental trauma. But what does PTSD actually look like in this case and what are the ways you can cope with it?
Find out in this blog.
What Puts You at Risk of Developing PTSD?
Every year, up to 6 million motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) take place across America. Many of these accidents result in both minor and serious injuries. Out of these 6 million accidents, almost 40 percent of people hang onto some form of mental trauma, i.e. PTSD.
You can read more about pedestrian accident facts, here.
While some people may take the experience of a car accident in their stride, many others may feel a huge range of emotions, including:
- Anxiety, worry, and nervousness
- Complete shock
- Denial that the accident even happened, especially those that include fatalities
- Fear or a general sense of uneasiness
These emotions may not present themselves right away and might manifest over time. It’s when you don’t process your emotions and keep replaying the accident in your mind that PTSD can develop. Along with this, there are a number of other risk factors for developing PTSD after you’re hit by a car. Some of these include:
- A mental disconnect between your thoughts, emotions, and memory, known as disassociation
- A family history of mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and maladaptive behaviors
- Extremely heightened levels of emotion such as horror, terror, fear, guilt, and shame
- A history of previous trauma
- A lack of social and emotional support after the accident
- Previous psychological problems
Most people are unaware of the fact they could be living with PTSD. While anyone hit by a car will concentrate on their physical recovery post-accident, it’s often mental recovery that’s overlooked.
Are These Feelings Normal or Do I Have PTSD?
As mentioned, PTSD is a mental disorder that most people might be completely unaware of. In fact, many people tend to deny the fact that they could be living with PTSD. So, how do you know if what you’re feeling is normal, or whether you might need help to cope with your mental trauma?
Generally, strong and even overwhelming emotions tend to take hold of a person after an accident then slowly begin to fade over time. But in some cases, these feelings don’t fade away. They might actually worsen or become totally all-consuming as time passes.
Your emotions could begin to change the way you think and behave on a daily basis. In other words, your emotions can get in the way of your everyday life. This is the beginning of post-traumatic stress disorder. Other obvious signs of serious mental trauma include:
- A persistent feeling of anxiety and uneasiness, i.e. like something ”bad” is about to happen
- High levels of anxiety when driving, inside a vehicle, or crossing the street
- Avoidance behavior, especially regarding medical tests and procedures
- High levels of worry and irritability
- Bouts of rage
- Trouble sleeping, night sweats, and nightmares
- A feeling of disconnect from the people and events taking place around you
- Reliving the accident on a constant basis
The good news is that there are ways to cope and live with mental trauma. However, it’s about identifying that you are struggling and seeking out the help that you need, first.
How To Cope With Mental Trauma After Being Hit By a Car
If you’re hit by a car — whether you’re severely injured or not, you have a chance of developing and holding onto some form of mental trauma. Here are 5 simple tips to help you manage this mental stress:
1. Talk About It
PTSD tends to manifest as a result of suppressed emotions. In other words, when you don’t talk about how feel, unprocessed emotions can build up and spill over into many other areas of your life.
You want to face your feelings and talk about them with people you trust. Whether that’s friends, relatives, or a mental health counselor or professional. Make sure you talk about details of the accident, how it made you feel at the time, and the days after it.
2. Follow Up With Your Doctor
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and can’t figure out why, follow up with your doctor, even if you’ve already received treatment for injuries. They can do an assessment of how you’re coping physically, then assess your mental health and how it’s related to your accident.
They can also prescribe medication if needs be, or refer you to a mental health specialist to help you get on track with managing your PTSD.
3. Maintain a Healthy Daily Routine
If you are able-bodied and can continue to maintain a sense of routine in your daily life, then it’s important to stick to this for your mental health. After traumatic accidents, some people tend to become overly cautious and limit the activities they take part in.
Try not to shut yourself off. It’s important to take part in your usual activities, where you can. If needs be, ease back into your daily routine until you’re comfortable and try to stick to it.
4. Keep Active
Exercise is a brilliant way to build up your strength after an accident, both in a physical and mental sense. It’s also a great mental outlet thanks to the release of feel-good hormones, dopamine, and serotonin.
As a simple form of stress release and way to take your mind off your mental trauma, keep active on a daily basis, when you can.
5. Be Patient and Gentle With Yourself
It’s normal to feel strong and overwhelming emotions after a traumatic event. Allow yourself the grace to feel these things and be patient while you process them. Overcoming mental trauma does not happen in a matter of days. It could take weeks, months, and even years.
Give yourself the time to face your feeling and work through them with the help of your support network.
Looking For More Life Hacks?
The trauma of being hit by a car is 100 percent valid. Just like any unforeseen accident, you’re allowed to feel overwhelmed with emotions. But when you can’t get a handle on your feelings, make sure to reach out for help as soon as you can.
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