Driving a car is a normal, every day activity for most people, but it still comes with the risk that a car accident could happen. Fender benders can startle us but don’t have lasting effects, other than maybe a dent in our bumper. Major car accidents can cause physical injuries, sometimes severe ones. In addition to the physical toll, your car may be totaled or severely damaged. You may lose your sense of self after a serious car accident. Because of that, you need to take measures to help you avoid a serious mental health issue on top of everything else.
Vocalize Your Emotions
We live in a culture that often encourages us to suppress our sadness or anxiety. The thinking goes that if we talk about it, then we’ll just make other people sad or anxious. And what good is that? However, mental health professionals say that talk therapy is an effective treatment for some forms of depression. Talking about your feelings with a trained professional can do a lot to make you feel less isolated, and fighting isolation is critical to fighting depression. Two types of talk therapy are most commonly associated with depression: cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, and interpersonal therapy.
CBT looks at persistent thought patterns that are messing with your mood. For instance, a depressed person might think, “I don’t deserve nice things, only bad ones.” A CBT therapist can help the patient examine that thought in more detail, then work to replace it with less negative thoughts.
Interpersonal therapy focuses on your relationships with other people. Identifying patterns in your relationships can help you realize things about your life and identity that you would never have picked up on otherwise. A therapist can also suggest other ways to keep your brain occupied, because depression often swoops in when you don’t feel like you have much to do. You may not be able to work while injured, but you can look into furthering your education through something like an RN to BSN degree program. Education is a worthy pursuit all on its own, and when done right, studying and completing assignments can actually be a form of self-care.
If therapy isn’t an option for financial reasons, see whether you can arrange a semi-regular coffee date with a close friend. You can talk about what’s bothering you, and he or she can do the same. Sure, your friend may not be dealing with a car accident, but everyone can both lend and use a supportive ear on occasion. There are also apps designed to help people manage symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Take Concrete Action
Talking about your emotions is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself, but after a car accident, you may also need to seek closure in other, more tangible ways. Once you feel mentally strong enough to do so, it may be worth revisiting what happened during the car accident. What seems fuzzy or surreal in the moment may be much clearer a few weeks later. You might assume that the car accident was your fault, especially if you’re the type of person who tends to look inward when something goes wrong.
Chances are good, though, that the other driver or drivers involved also bear some blame. If they were speeding, texting, or not paying attention to the road, a civil court could find them legally responsible and order them to compensate you for your injuries. Consider researching motor vehicle accident lawyers. If you’re on a motorcycle, find a firm that specializes in motorcycle accident negligence. If what you see seems promising, think about scheduling an initial consultation with one or two. Seeking compensation has a time limit, and the clock starts the minute the accident occurs. It’s worth committing yourself to some basic research unless you’re completely sure you have no interest in a civil suit.