Dealing with Depression After a Car Accident

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. – Confucius
Car accidents not only cause physical injuries, but also lead to emotional trauma. Many accident survivors undergo a lot of emotional upheaval. They find it difficult to cope with the accident and its aftermath. This leads to depression.

Sometimes, such accidents alter the life of the victims drastically. If they have been physically affected by the accident, like rendered disabled or confined to a wheelchair, they find it even more difficult to deal with it. If a life is lost, it weighs a heavy burden on the shoulders of the survivors, with extreme emotions of anger, irritability, fear, guilt, etc. They also exhibit symptoms like sleep problems, weight changes, loss of appetite, social withdrawal, excessive crying, etc. Remember that it is difficult, but not impossible to get over post-accident depression.

car accident
Dealing with Post-accident Trauma
Speaking to Family and Friends
worried girls speaking to friends
Bottling up feelings is harmful; rather, he should make it a point to speak to family members and friends from time to time. Venting suppressed emotions can help him cope with the situation in a better way.
Getting Professional Help
depressed man
If it gets difficult to handle the feelings, and the person constantly suffers from anxiety and depression, he should consult a therapist. In many cases, accident victims suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which needs to be treated by a professional. Speaking to a professional will help him recover faster. Sometimes, people who are affected by accident trauma do not open up to their immediate family and friends, but feel better when they talk to a professional therapist. Hence, he should not hesitate to seek professional help.
Joining Support Groups and Forums
Support groups and forums
There are many people who have gone through a similar experience. They share their experiences of dealing with post-accident trauma, in support groups or online forums. Joining such a group will help him find ways to cope with his emotions. The person will be able to draw inspiration from other survivors, and their tips will provide comfort and encourage positivity.
Learning from Mistakes
If the accident occurred due to his fault, the pressure of guilt can make his life miserable; helplessness might be depressing him to no end. It is true that what has been done, cannot be undone, however, he can learn from it. If the person was drunk or careless, let this experience teach him to become extremely careful and alert while driving. Making it a habit to abstain from alcohol or any other type of addictive, can make things easier.
Identifying Negative Emotions
He may be undergoing a range of different emotions like helplessness, anxiety, shock, guilt, sadness, hope, nervousness, etc. In such situations, understanding which emotions are negative is important. He must slowly, yet steadily, learn to isolate these emotions from his thoughts, and try to think in the positive direction. It won’t happen overnight, but it is definitely possible.
Keeping Oneself Busy
It may so happen, that he will keep getting flashes of the accident or nightmares about it. Constantly thinking about it can make things worse. He should avoid it by keeping the mind busy. Something constructive can be done―anything that will divert his thoughts and energy. He should not let negative emotions overrule or he will find it difficult to get over the depression.
Doing Things that One Likes
woman reading book
Whether it is reading a book, going for a walk, or undertaking a DIY home project, he should do anything that will hold his interest, and make him forget his worries and depression. It is important that he invests his time and efforts in satisfactory work, which will enable him to get over his depression faster.
Getting Back into Regular Routine
He must try to overcome his depression by doing things the way he did before the accident, like going to office, walking the dog, working out at the gym, etc. He can start with small things, like hanging out with friends, or going for a movie, which will be less taxing, physically as well as emotionally. Sooner or later, things will fall into place.
Avoiding Alcohol and Drugs
man with pills and alcohol
Alcohol and drugs never help in bringing relief from depression. So, he must not indulge in them. Instead, he must take up some form of exercise to get back to his old, fit self. This will help in boosting his confidence.
Delay Major Decisions in Life
When a person is depressed, he might take emotionally-driven decisions. In the long run, he might not be convinced about these decisions and end up regretting them. This can add to depression. Hence, he should refrain from taking major decisions during this phase. Once he bounces back, he can give these life-altering decisions a serious thought.
Taking the Driving Seat Again
driving on highway
A trauma patient may fear driving again after the accident. It is natural that he may feel threatened and anxious when driving. However, it is important for him to let go of the past. He must not let this experience make him bitter or lose his confidence. He must collect himself as early as he can, and get going.
Tips for Family and Friends
Understand Them
There will be times when you will find it difficult to make sense of a victim’s behavior. He can act difficult or unpredictable, owing to the stress and trauma that he has faced. Hence, you will have to put up an understanding front, and let go of every harsh word that he might say. Patiently listen to what he has to say, and pacify him. Your support will help the accident victim cope with the situation.
Avoid Broaching the Topic
While it is important that you give company to the accident victim, try not to bring up the topic of the accident again and again. It will bring back the gruesome memories of the accident, and will push him deeper into depression. Also, try to avoid mentioning the incident in front of him unless he wants to speak about it. Try to act as if everything is normal and nothing has happened. This will help him recover early.
Give Them Some Time
It is advisable to give the person some time and space to get over depression and trauma. He may have seen other people get fatally injured or may have even imagined his own death during the accident. This may have shocked and hurt him deeply. Hence, give him some time before he recovers completely and resumes his routine.
Allow Them to be Themselves
During his low phase, allow him the freedom to do what he wants. If he wants to just sit and relax, let him do so. If he insists on pursuing a hobby to feel better, don’t stop him. Encourage him through your actions and words till his life returns to normalcy.
Help Them Recover
In case the accident had caused your friend a physical disability or bereavement, in the first few days, he will find it very difficult to deal with the situation. It is important that he knows that he is not alone, and you are by his side to help him out. Whether it is helping him with the insurance claims, or helping him with the medicines, expenses, encouragement, etc., see to it that you are there for him. If you feel he needs professional help for his depression, you should take the initiative to consult a therapist.
Surviving a traumatic experience is commendable, and a person who has gone through it, might need the support of near and dear ones. It is, therefore, our responsibility to extend as much help as possible.