How To Improve Your Mental Health After An Accident

By Last Updated: January 24th, 202411.4 min readViews: 3017

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Table of contents
About the Author: Daryl Stubbs
Daryl Stubbs
Daryl Stubbs is a multi-disciplinary health professional, combining his roles as an award-winning athletic therapist, registered massage therapist, and certified holistic nutritionist to offer a comprehensive approach to wellness. Graduating in 2013, Daryl has been recognized as the best massage therapy clinic in Victoria for 2022 and 2023 and has received national athletic therapy awards. He is known for his holistic approach to health, focusing on treating the body as a whole. Clients appreciate his focus on the science of probiotics, supplements, gut health, and the human body, ensuring a well-informed and evidence-based approach to their wellness journey.

Are you experiencing anxiety after your car accident?

We all know how to fix a cut but what can you do if you’re anxious after getting into a car accident?

We discuss the options available to recover your mental health from a car accident.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident or working with an ICBC claim and are not sure what you can do to reduce anxiety, depression, stress, or PTSD we’ve laid out the options that are available to you.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident and have an ICBC claim number already, please don’t hesitate to call our ICBC-approved massage therapy clinic to answer any questions that you may have.

Most of the time, the initial concern has to do with any physical injuries for the people involved in car accidents and getting that help immediately.

After the accident, many fail to recognize how these accidents affect their emotional and mental health. 

Most wouldn’t consider the car accident they were in 3 years a traumatic event.

It’s because we usually assume trauma has to be something as significant as a death of a loved one or a natural disaster, but trauma is anything that is “deeply distressing or disturbing,” and that looks different for each individual.

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be the driver in the accident for it to be traumatic, you can be the passenger or a bystander for it to have its effects on you.

Following an accident, many people can experience emotional distress.

It’s normal that during the healing process, you may begin to notice signs of increased stress such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, anguish, fearfulness, troubles with sleep, reoccurring nightmares about the crash and more. 

These intense emotions can lead to avoidance.

You may avoid having to drive again by avoiding going to work, appointments, events, school, etc. due to fear of getting into another accident. 

When symptoms start getting in the way of life, it may be a sign to take action.

We usually take physical injuries like back pain, shoulder pain, headaches, cuts, broken bones, and concussions seriously – we don’t always take our mental health as seriously.

Car accidents affect our mental health

Everyone involved must get help to recover.

When to Seek Help for Mental Health Symptoms After a Crash

You should ask your primary care physician if seeing a mental health professional if you are struggling with any of the following symptoms in the wake of a car accident:

  • Increased anxiety or uneasiness
  • Irritability or excessive anger
  • Persistent nightmares or dreams about the accident
  • Lack of focus
  • Unmanageable fear of driving or riding in cars
  • Feeling emotionally disconnected
  • Difficulty eating or sleeping
  • Relying on drugs or alcohol to cope
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or others

Don’t ignore psychological symptoms in the weeks and months following the trauma of a car accident.

Acknowledge your feelings and emotions, no matter how difficult they are to deal with, and talk to your doctor about your thoughts and your quality of life. 

Reach out to a friend, family member, or support group if you need someone to talk to or aren’t sure where else to turn.


The Stress Of A Car Accident

The stress from the car accident, dealing with ICBC, and the financial costs all play a role on increasing your stress levels

A car accident or often referred to in the industry as an MVA (motor vehicle accident), can also lead to further stress.

This includes filling out claims for ICBC, lawyer meetings and the associated fees, and the financial stress it can bring.

Getting help for the mental and emotional symptoms an accident can cause shouldn’t add to your worries.

At Sync Therapy, we understand this.

While we don’t specifically offer counselling services, we refer out for this. We understand that stress affects not only the body but also the mind.

Chronic untreated stress can lead to an increase in pain, sleep issues, and a longer recovery

We will break down the symptoms of various conditions that can come about from being in an accident.

What Mental Health Problems May Come Up After An Accident?

Your mental health can be impacted from an MVA but ICBC has counsellors and psychotherapists so you don’t have to go at it alone

There are several different things you may experience after an accident: 

The symptoms for each can range from mild to severe. These include feelings of fearfulness when being in a car or driving, trouble sleeping and flashbacks of the accident.

These don’t just impact you but they also affect your relationships with a partner, colleagues, and family members.


Anxiety After An Accident

Being anxious about finances, work, or just getting back into the car is common from clients who’ve been in an accident

Anxiety or panic attacks can show themselves both physically and mentally.

Physically, they may have shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain or discomfort, sweating, shaking, or even nausea or sickness.

Mentally, they can express themselves as feelings of panic or disorder, especially when being back in a car, on a particularly busy road, or when driving close to the accident place.

These symptoms occur as the mind is reminded of the accident and it triggers the body to react in a ‘fight or flight’ manner.

Some trigger memories may include cars on the road, the scene of the accident, or a particular sound or smell.

The good news is that symptoms of anxiety can be managed, and the underlying issues surrounding the accident can be addressed in a safe and controlled environment, helping you reduce your anxiety.

We’ve written about supplements for anxiety if you want to take the edge off of your anxiety.

Post Accident Depression

Depression can arise for many reasons but finding an ICBC approved counsellor is an important step to help you recover

Depression, clinically referred to as major depressive disorder (MDD), is a mental health issue common in both crash victims and the general population.

For crash victims, depression is often tied to the physical injuries and pain sustained from the crash.

Depression is serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

If you are experiencing a combination of these symptoms after being in a car crash, you should speak to a psychologist or tell your doctor as soon as possible.

Warning Signs of Major Depressive Disorder

  • Daily fatigue and lack of energy
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Lack of enjoyment or interest in activities
  • Recurring suicidal thoughts
  • Decreased concentration
  • An inability to sleep or difficulty waking up
  • Irrational irritability or anger
  • Significant weight loss or gain

Why Is Depression Common After a Car Crash?

Physical injuries may limit your ability to work, exercise, and enjoy day-to-day activities like playing with your children.

There may also be a biological response from inflammation affecting your mood, that’s why it’s important to ask your doctor for specific blood markers and work with a holistic nutritionist to reduce those levels while talking with a counsellor

If you’re suddenly unable to partake in activities that you used to enjoy because of pain or a debilitating injury, you may become depressed.

Likewise, the stress and worry that victims experience regarding the financial effects of their car crash can also trigger depression.

Additionally, many people who experience anxiety or PTSD also experience depression, and some medications that treat anxiety can also be used to treat depression.

If you suspect you might be struggling with depression, please speak to a healthcare professional today to receive the treatment you need.

It’s important to get help if you start to feel any of these symptoms or emotions; and remember, you don’t have to handle these feelings on your own.

If you have a therapist already, please talk to them. If you don’t have a therapist and have been involved in a car accident and have an ICBC claim number, you’re entitled to finding an ICBC approved counsellor and have sessions covered.

To learn more about what you’re entitled to from ICBC, please check out this page

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Having PTSD, flashbacks, or nightmares is common when someone goes through a traumatic event. Counsellors are trained to support you through this process

When you hear about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), your mind may turn to army personnel or armed forces as these cases are what we most often see in the media.

The truth is that PTSD can affect anyone who has been through a traumatic experience – including a car crash. 

The symptoms may vary, but one of the most common is the flashback.

Flashbacks can be re-seeing short bursts of images from the accident, to re-experiencing long, repetitive sequences from the accident. They can come up at any time. Usually, they occur with a trigger, similar to the triggers mentioned to anxiety. 

This does not mean you should avoid situations where triggers may appear completely. Sometimes, being carefully exposed to the triggers can help you to conquer the fear and symptoms associated with your PTSD.

It’s important to talk to a qualified therapist or clinical counsellor for this, they often don’t “just go away”


Insomnia And Sleep Issues

Having trouble sleeping or falling asleep from anxiety, racing thoughts, or pain is common during an accident.

Sleep is often a major complaint of someone who is involved in a car accident.

While it’s best to get between 7.5-8.5 hours of sleep, it’s not always possible from pain or our thoughts racing.

Sleep is incredibly important for recovery from your injuries.

However, the stress and pain of a car accident can lead to difficulty falling asleep, patterns of disrupted sleep, and even restless sleep.

These all fall under the umbrella term of insomnia, which can negatively impact all aspects of your life, leaving you with low energy, fatigue, and physical and mental exhaustion.

The physical pain experienced from the car accident can limit your ability to get a good night’s sleep and a poor nights sleep can increase your sensitivity to the pain – making it a vicious cycle

How Can you Get Help With These Symptoms?

Contacting an ICBC approved clinical counsellor is an important step for your recovery plan

There are multiple ways you can approach managing these.

Our business doesn’t offer counselling in Victoria but it offers several strategies and coping mechanisms to help you understand your mental health and to return things to their normal levels.

We have referrals for counsellors.

It’s important to know that every person’s recovery journey is different and a tailored recovery program is important to not only reduce your physical symptoms but to improve your mental health. 


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

CBT takes the scary to the non-scary

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an approach that deals with how you think about yourself, other people and the world.

The outside world affects how we think and feel about ourselves and as a result, our behaviour.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help you change the way they think about thoughts and feelings, but it is not like other types of talk therapy.

CBT works on the understanding that we can control and change our thought patterns, which in turn will have a positive impact on our behaviour.

It involves facing the source of your mental health issues head-on but without the stress of facing it head-on. Identifying and approaching your issues will not only help you to understand them but help you to control and manage them.

This works well with anxiety and depression as it helps us to see our experiences in manageable ways, swapping unhelpful, distressing, and inaccurate thoughts for helpful and proactive behaviours. 

Counsellors often use Cognitive Therapy in the recovery of clients who have been in a car accident.

CBT can help stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD in this scenario.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is used by counsellors, psychologists, and therapists in the Victoria area.


EMDR Therapy

EMDR is the latest therapy that provides impressive results and is our favourite approach to reduce the effects of a car accident.

Look for ICBC approved clinical counsellors that offer EMDR

EMDR Therapy is a non-hypnotic, well-researched and validated therapy that can jump-start or accelerate healing from an MVA.

The World Health Organization lists EMDR as first-line trauma therapy, and EMDR is recognized by many organizations as an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress.

EMDR therapy shows that the mind can heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.

When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.

Once the block is removed, healing resumes.

EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.

At Sync Therapy, we believe in the importance of mental health alongside your physical health. That’s why we pair our ICBC massage therapy with counsellors and psychotherapists. 

We know that we can improve your recovery time for a car accident with talking to someone

If you’re in Victoria and need help in your recovery process from an MVA, our ICBC approved massage therapist can help out. That’s a great page to learn about the new rules for ICBC

We look forward to helping you out and creating a treatment plan for on the road to recovery

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