Aftershock: Coping with Post-Crash Stress Disorder in Utah

Being in a car accident can be a traumatic experience, even if you walk away relatively unharmed. The suddenness of the event, fear of injury or death, sights and sounds of the crash, and its aftermath can all contribute to overwhelming stress reactions known as post-crash stress disorder.

Common Reactions

In the days and weeks following an accident, it’s normal to experience some degree of:

  • Anxiety when driving or riding in a vehicle
  • Flashbacks to the accident, including sights, sounds, and feelings
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Anger, irritability, or emotional numbness
  • Muscle tension, headaches, fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering details

For most people, these reactions will fade over time. But for some, post-crash stress can linger for months or years and significantly impact their quality of life.

When to Seek Help

If your stress symptoms don’t improve after a few weeks, or they are severely impacting your daily functioning, it’s important to seek professional help. A psychologist or counselor can assist with stress management techniques and determine if medication is needed.

Signs that you should seek assistance include:

  • Ongoing fatigue, headaches, muscle tension
  • Inability to concentrate at work/school
  • Persistent anxiety or depression
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Thoughts of self-harm

Coping Strategies

Whether you have mild or more severe post-crash stress, there are things you can do to help manage your symptoms:

  • Talk about the accident – Discussing your experience and feelings with supportive loved ones can help validate and relieve them. Consider joining a support group.
  • Practice relaxation techniques – Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation can activate your relaxation response and reduce anxiety.
  • Maintain routines – Keeping a regular schedule for meals, work, exercise, and sleep helps restore a sense of normalcy.
  • Exercise and eat well – Staying active and eating a balanced diet will improve your mood and ability to cope with stress.
  • Limit driving – Take a break from driving to allow your nervous system to reset. Ride with others or use public transportation until you feel comfortable behind the wheel.
  • Get extra rest – Being patient with yourself and allowing more time for sleep can help the healing process.
  • Avoid ruminating – Dwelling on the accident or beating yourself up over it will only prolong your stress. Stay focused on the present.
  • Seek counseling – If stress remains persistent or severe, consulting a psychologist can help identify core issues and teach healthy coping mechanisms. Medication may also be warranted in some cases.

You Don’t Have to Cope Alone

Experiencing a car accident can be devastating, with psychological effects that linger. But you don’t have to suffer through post-crash stress disorder on your own. Whether reaching out to loved ones, learning coping strategies, or seeking professional counseling, there are many resources in Utah to help you through this challenging time.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident that wasn’t your fault, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Monge & Associates are here to help. We have 32 offices in 19 states, including Utah, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Call us today for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597.