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Emotional consequences of car accidents

A car crash is a sudden and traumatizing experience. Your car accident may do more than injure you physically–it may give you emotional trauma too. You may initially experience shock and then a variety of emotions like sadness, anger and anxiety. You may even suffer PTSD after a motor vehicle collision.

It is normal to struggle with your mental health after a wreck. Here are some emotions you may experience in the days, weeks and months following your car accident.

Shock and disbelief

Due to the surprising nature of a collision, you may feel in shock at the scene of the accident and for days afterward. Shock may make you feel numb or have unpredictable mood swings. You may even have trouble coming to terms with the fact that the accident actually happened.

Anger and agitation

If another driver causes your collision, it is natural to feel angry. Irritation is a normal emotion to experience in the aftermath of the accident, but you should not act on it. Arguing or getting physical will only make matters worse. Rather than letting your anger get the best of you, seek support from others.

Anxiety and fear

An auto accident is a stressful event, which means you may experience anxiety. Symptoms of anxiousness may include the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Worrying
  • Irritability
  • Lack of energy

Make sure you talk to friends and family members about any fear you are feeling. If necessary, you may need to seek counseling. 


Sometimes, emotions linger and even get stronger over time. PTSD may manifest itself in the following ways:

  • Fear about driving or being a passenger
  • Feeling uneasy
  • Excessive worrying
  • Nightmares
  • Intrusive memories of the crash

Therapy can help you manage and overcome your PTSD symptoms. 

As you deal with the emotional consequences of your car accident, make sure you talk to friends, stay active and follow up with your doctor.

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