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Post-Accident Emotions: What Feelings are Normal After a Car Accident?

Posted by | 15-12-2020

Whether you’re in a fender-bender or head-on collision, car accidents can be a traumatic experience. And as unique individuals, we all process difficult situations in different ways. One thing to remember though: It’s normal to feel some heavy emotions following a car accident. After all, your body and mind is likely in a state of shock. 

At Physiomed, we look after thousands of car accident victims each year. Although many of our patients seek treatment for muscle, nerve and spinal injuries, many of them report a range of emotions during their path to recovery as well. So let’s explore some of the common feelings following a motor vehicle accident, and what you can do to help manage them. 

Denial and disbelief

Immediately after, it’s normal to feel shock and disbelief. As you process the aftermath, you may be in denial that such a traumatic event even occurred. And the more serious the accident, the stronger those feelings of disbelief may be. Shock can be experienced in many different ways. But mental and physical numbness are usually most common. You don’t necessarily have to be the driver of a vehicle to be in a state of shock, either. Passengers, and even observers in another car nearby, can also undergo emotional distress.

Anger and irritability 

Do you find yourself snapping at loved ones, even long after the incident? Agitation is common among victims, and it’s often triggered by lingering anger towards the driver of the other car. Meanwhile, some passengers will feel even more resentment because they’re furious with both drivers of the collision. 

Sometimes we are especially harmful to those we love the most. Close family members may become an easy target for this pent-up anger. It’s important to remember though that they only want to help. Rage and irritability are valid reactions, but you don’t need to act on them. When you sense these feelings are about to erupt, breathe deeply and step away for a moment. Let your loved ones know the lines of communication are still open; you just need some space to cool off, so you can come back and engage in more meaningful dialogue. 

Shame

You may be blaming yourself for the accident, triggering feelings of shame and worthlessness. These emotions are especially common if you feel the collision was avoidable. On the other hand, if you were witness to a crash, you may be wondering if there was anything more you could do to help.

Shame is a self-conscious emotion associated with negative thoughts about ourselves. If not dealt with, it could lead to long-term depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. The good news though is that experts believe shame is treatable. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, for example, can help people understand the connection between their thoughts, beliefs and behaviours. The key is to reach out and share your story, whether it be with a therapist or loved one. 

Worry and fear

You may be scared to get back into a vehicle and hit the roads again. Unfortunately, working your way out of this fear will take some time. Aside from feeling anxious about getting behind the wheel, you may also encounter unwanted thoughts. But one of the best ways to minimize fear and worry is to talk about it with those you trust. Family, friends, or even a qualified counsellor can be great sources of strength. 

Allow yourself the room to recover at your own pace, and never feel pressured to ‘get over it’. Complex emotions don’t just sort themselves out with some inner reflection and a good support system.  

Healing with Physiomed

One of the most effective ways to recover emotionally is to ensure your physical health remains intact. Massage therapy, physiotherapy and chiropractic care are just some of the treatments we offer. And the best part is that many of our services are covered by health insurance plans. 

Because the mind and body are so intricately connected, relaxing the muscles and addressing chronic pain can help reduce mental stress. So let’s work together to help you heal from injury, so you can finally reclaim your life.

For more information on recovering from a car accident or to book an assessment, contact us here 

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Dr. Scott Wilson is the Founder & Chairman of Physiomed; one of Canada’s largest franchised networks of inter-disciplinary healthcare clinics. A graduate of Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Dr. Wilson founded Physiomed in 1994 and has since grown Physiomed to over 30 clinics in Southern Ontario and British Columbia. With hundreds of practitioners from over a dozen disciplines, Dr. Wilson and Physiomed have helped over 100,000 Canadians with physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, orthotic therapy, compression therapy and clinical conditioning as part of a program of rehabilitation and health optimization. In addition to helping patients improve their physical and mental well-being, Dr. Wilson has also mentored hundreds of practitioners to provide better care while enjoying more fulfilling careers. He is also a keynote speaker on many health related topics including how physiotherapy, chiropractic and health & wellness treatment can help with stress, weight loss, and unlocking the true potential within to achieve lasting physical well-being.