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Don’t neglect your emotional health after a car wreck

If you’ve been involved in a serious car wreck, you’re probably too focused on your physical injuries to contemplate any psychological ones. However, you may have them -– and if you don’t recognize and deal with them, they can continue to impact your life even after your physical injuries are largely healed.

Even people who are fortunate enough to escape with nothing more than some bruises or sore muscles nonetheless suffer anxiety and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This tends to be more common among people who feared they would die just before or during the wreck and/or those who have experienced previous traumatic events or already suffer from anxiety disorders.

One way to help minimize anxiety in the days following a wreck is to write about it, according to one psychologist. Even if you not one for journaling, one psychologist says, “Writing a narrative of the accident helps people face the trauma and deal with their emotions.” It can also be useful if you’re going to court.

Talking about the wreck is also important. As you share the details with family, friends and others (with an emphasis on the fact that you made it through), the anxiety should dissipate.

Even if you’re physically able to drive again soon after the wreck, you may not be emotionally ready. If you’re still fearful of getting behind the wheel again, take things one step at a time. Start with short drives around the neighborhood. Bring someone along for support – and to take over if necessary.

While you may want to avoid the scene of the wreck, it’s best not to if it means driving out of your way or changing your routine. Once you’ve conquered that hurdle, it will have less power over you.

If your anxiety seems to be getting worse instead of better, and if it’s impacting your life, your thoughts and your ability to sleep, it may be wise to see a psychologist or other mental health professional. They can help you process what happened and move forward.

If you’re seeking compensation from an at-fault driver, you have just as much right to include expenses for psychological treatment as you do for medical treatment. An experienced attorney can help you get the compensation you need and deserve.

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