Any time you are the victim of a serious accident, there is a ripple effect of consequences. Of course, you have the immediate issues, such as dealing with any significant injury and property damage.
And then you have the long-term results. These often include financial worries, chronic and persistent physical conditions, and psychological trauma.
Of all of these problems, the one that often overshadows everything else is the damage done to your mental health. It’s an all-encompassing result of the accident itself and the inability to live your old life.
Add in the stress of your new injuries and wondering how you’ll pay for your bills now and in the future, and anyone’s mental strength gets shaken.
But, in our society, it isn’t always cool to admit to having psychological problems. You may feel that there’s a stigma attached to it. To make a full recovery after your accident, though, you have to get past that belief.
That’s why we at Hershey Law have compiled a list of common psychological effects and statistics that happen to almost every one of our clients after a severe personal injury.
You’re not alone, and it’s okay to get help for your mental anguish.
What is Considered Psychological Damage?
The biggest reason people don’t seek out help for psychological damage isn’t the potential stigma attached. It’s because they see their feelings as an expected way of living.
While this is true for some aspects of mental health, it’s not okay to live that way long-term.
Personal injuries bring a variety of feelings to the surface. Once the initial relief that you’re alive wears off, you are likely going to feel a roller coaster of shock, anger, guilt, and anxiousness.
These feelings are perfectly normal. It’s also common to replay the accident over and over again, focusing on “what-ifs.” That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to do this, but it’s understandable.
The problem really begins when these feelings and thoughts prevent you from moving forward with your life.
There’s no time frame on how long you should take to get over the trauma of your accident. Anyone who tries to stipulate one on you doesn’t understand how psychological damage works.
However, you should notice a gradual improvement over time. Feelings that were once overwhelming, like the fear of getting in a car again after an accident, should lessen. Anxiety that was debilitating at first should decrease to where you can live a mostly normal life.
If this doesn’t happen, you may be dealing with severe psychological trauma.
One of the top recommended ways to work through any strong feelings of stress after an accident is to seek counseling. Medications can help, but the important part is to learn how to handle triggers.
Statistics Show You’re Not Alone
Long-term studies performed by scientific journals prove that mental health trauma isn’t something you can “just get over.” In fact, there’s a significant correlation between traumatic injuries and psychological conditions.
Learning how to identify symptoms of those conditions early can help victims of injuries and accidents cope with and work through their trauma. These studies have shown that early identification of mental health problems like anxiety and depression can reduce the severity of the condition.
The numbers don’t lie. Research shows that more than half of the participants studied who had been in a significant accident reported higher than average levels of stress, anxiety, and/or depression during emergency care.
Identification and treatment of those with higher levels at three and six months after injury helps to prevent long-term, debilitating psychological damage.
Examples of Long-Term Mental Health Conditions
Still, even with treatment, many victims of traumatic accidents must deal with mental health struggles for years. Sometimes, the fear never goes away. These long-term mental health conditions are frequently treated like a physical injury when it comes to receiving compensation in a lawsuit.
Common consequences of a personal injury that may mean you should seek help include:
- Anxiety regarding repeating the steps that took you to the accident
- An ongoing feeling of unease that you can’t pinpoint the cause of
- Resistance to riding in a car or performing the task you were doing when you had the accident
- Mood swings and irritability
- Nightmares, night terrors, or any other trouble sleeping
- An overall feeling of disconnect with daily life
- Uncontrollable flashbacks and memories of the accident
Without proper care, these typical symptoms can turn in severe psychological damage. Your personal injury attorney can use expert testimony to get you compensation for mental health injuries.
Some of the most frequently seen psychological trauma after a personal injury are:
- Depression – There are many factors that can trigger depression for victims of an accident. Physical injuries that keep you from living your prior quality of life are the most common. Financial worries, the inability to hold your previous (or any) job, and the stress on your family can also cause depression.
If you had depression before your accident, your condition could worsen. It’s important to let your doctor and attorney know so they can get you help as soon as possible.
- Anxiety – Depression and anxiety are often confused with each other, but they are two different diagnoses. Depression occurs because of feelings of hopelessness about your current situation or past events. Anxiety, on the other hand, is a fear of what could happen in the future.
If you’re scared to live your once-normal daily life because of worry that you or someone you love may be hurt, talk to your doctor about your concerns. Anxiety in some levels is normal, but if it’s keeping you up at night and making it difficult to go about your day, you may need help.
- PTSD – You’ve probably heard of PTSD in some form or another. It’s a common diagnosis today in soldiers coming from the battlefield and victims of abuse. But it’s also seen frequently in people who have survived a traumatic accident.
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is, by definition, an intense physical and emotional response to a traumatic event. It can last weeks, months, or years.
Symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, nightmares, shaking, cold sweats, irritability, and more. Those who suffer from PTSD may need a combination of therapeutic efforts to get their symptoms under control.
- Sleeping disorders – Nightmares and trouble sleeping are symptoms of PTSD. But having them doesn’t necessarily mean you have PTSD.
Many sleeping disorders are common after an accident. You may have insomnia, where you have trouble falling asleep or can’t sleep at all. Or you may fall asleep fine but wake up remembering the accident or stressing over past and future events.
Sleep is necessary for our bodies to recover and work properly. Without restful slumber, you get sick easier and are more prone to disease and chronic conditions.
Not being able to sleep isn’t something you should deal with yourself. Talk to your attorney and your doctor if you have sleep disturbances preventing you from getting rest before your lack of sleep becomes dangerous.
- Interpersonal relationship struggles – The combination of the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression after an accident can seep into your relationships. You may lose the will to do even simple things with your family. Your sex drive may be decreased, and with it, the intimacy that kept your marital relationship together.
All of this can result in an overall loss of enjoyment in your daily life. You no longer look forward to the future, and activities that used to be fun aren’t the same anymore.
Just because these conditions aren’t visible doesn’t mean they’re not significant.
As with any physical injury, proper care and treatment is necessary for recovery. You may be able to improve the problem, but it may never completely go away. And you should be compensated for this change in your life.
Compensation for Non-Physical or Financial Damages
A frequent misconception of personal injury clients is that they can only receive compensation for physical or property damages. The truth is that if you have a knowledgeable attorney and documented treatment for your condition, California courts will award just financial compensation for psychological trauma.
The amount of damages you can expect will depend on factors such as the direct costs for past and future care and the impact of the mental health conditions on your daily life. The idea behind your compensation is to ensure that you can continue to recover and deal with your physical and mental injuries over the long-term.
The key to a successful personal injury lawsuit lies in working together with an expert attorney, like those of us at Hershey Law. Going it alone, or with a fly-by-night lawyer, can appreciably diminish your final damages. And you only get one shot at holding the negligent party accountable.
If you were injured due to a car accident, slip and fall, or other type of personal injury, don’t take chances.
Call Hershey Law today and schedule a free consultation to see how we can help you recover from your accident and get the compensation you deserve.