In a State of Shock: 4 Psychological Responses You Can Expect After a Car Crash

A car crash is always frightening. No matter the circumstances, it’s never planned for or expected. Many car crashes occur when you’re least expecting them, as either someone hits you or you bang into someone else. Most of the time, physical damages, either to person or vehicle, are the main focus and priority of people at the scene. When there is an accident, the number one call is to an ambulance, followed by insurance companies, police, a concerned spouse, or to contact a car accident lawyer.

However, following an accident–even if it was relatively minor–there can be some psychologically follow-ups that need to be addressed.

Four Common Responses 

Shock, denial, and disbelief are relatively common following a car crash. This, like any other psychological responses, can be felt whether you were driving the car, a pedestrian that was hit, or the passenger in the vehicle. Shock manifests differently for different people, but it’s generally felt as numbness, mood swings, or continued feelings of fear.

Anxiety also commonly occurs after an accident. Nerves surrounding the accident, fears or stresses of how you responded, and other troubles can cause problems even after the accident is over. It often manifests as feeling nervous, anxious, or worrying excessively. Many people try to work harder in order to make themselves not worry as much, or to distract themselves. Having no energy, feeling irritable, or difficulty concentrating are all common to those who have been involved in a car accident.

Guilt and shame are also common responses, particularly if you were the driver of the car when the accident occurred. Blaming yourself, guilty thoughts, or other spiraling emotions are definitely possible, especially if you somehow caused the accident–or even just believe that you did.

Another common response to being involved in a car accident is anger or irritability. Chances are, a crash had a huge impact on your day, potentially causing life-threatening injury, hurting someone else, or tangling you into a legal battle. Being angry or irritable that the accident occurred or being mad at those involved, is a very common emotion to feel. 

What to Do About It 

When faced with emotional struggles, as many are after a car accident, it’s important to make sure to heal both the physical and mental. Many times, the first injury that does need to heal is the physical–but the mental can soon follow.

When in doubt, always seek professional help. There is nothing better suited to help an emotional struggle than someone who does the helping professionally. Online forums, or even other people, might not be the best if you have a serious struggle.

Many times, it just takes time for the mind to heal after a traumatic injury. Other times, particularly if your condition is affecting your work, family, or personal life, medication or professional help might be needed.

Moving Forward

Moving forward from an accident is a complex and difficult thing to do. Regardless of how you were involved, there is a chance that you have suffered from both an emotional and physical injury, and will need to devote time to healing both. Mostly, these psychological responses should fade with time, but if they don’t–don’t feel bad about seeking help.