There are very few things in this world that can change your life as quickly as a car accident. You can go from normal to injured in seconds, and you never saw it coming.
It makes sense, then, that many car accident victims struggle with depression after their collision. If you’re one of them, please know that this is completely normal, and you can overcome those feelings.
The old cliché about time as a great healer is partly true here. You will get past the initial high-intensity emotions as the days pass.
However, if your blues turn into depression, you may need more help than patience. Here are three steps to take to overcome the trauma and take control of your future.
1. Step One: Recognize Sadness Versus Depression
You’ve been involved in a traumatic incident. You should have strong feelings right now, and chances are, they’ll swing back and forth along the pendulum from relief to anger and everything in between.
Gradually, those emotions should balance out, and you’ll start to feel like yourself again. There is no time limit necessarily, but if you recognize any of these thoughts and feelings, put yourself on red alert and start looking for a little extra outside help:
- You’re feeling hopeless or helpless
- You feel guilty about what happened and can’t shake the guilt
- You’re sad or anxious most of the day, for multiple days in a row
- You have no interest in the things you used to love doing
- You can’t concentrate or remember basic details
- Your energy is low, and you sleep (or want to sleep) a lot
- Your health is deteriorating, you’re gaining or losing weight, and you have pain for seemingly no reason
Most importantly, if you are thinking about hurting yourself, get help. Dial 988 and talk to someone who cares. There are a lot more people out there that want you to be happy than you may realize.
2. Step Two: Don’t Try To Deal With Your Accident Alone
Your emotional health is the number one priority. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything you have to do since the accident, the good news is you don’t have to do it alone.
There are professional doctors and lawyers who handle car accidents all the time. They know how to talk to insurance adjusters, where to send you for your aches and pains, and how to help you get the care you need for your depression.
When you’re not sure what the immediate future looks like, it can cause your anxiety to skyrocket. Let the professionals take care of the red tape and guide your path so you can focus on your recovery.
Having someone who knows what they’re doing on your side will substantially lower your stress.
3. Step Three: Get Active
Emotions need motion. They’re part of your body’s physiological response to stress, and they need an outlet.
This doesn’t mean you have to start exercising in your living room or join a gym, although those are both excellent activities. Any kind of movement will help distract your brain a little from your emotions. The more active and busy you are, the more time your mind has to work on processing what it is feeling.
Some possible suggestions to use include:
- Talking to your family, friends, or a therapist. Talk therapy is highly successful as a brain-changing method.
- Making lists of what’s bothering you versus what the reality of the situation is (i.e., you feel guilty about the accident, but you make a list of all the factors you had no control over)
- Engaging in yoga, tai chi, or walking through the woods as an outlet for your anger
- Prayer and meditation to block out environmental distractions
- Cleaning your house and decluttering
- Creative activities like writing, drawing, journaling, or cooking
- Strenuous exercise, such as running, karate, or a workout routine
Any movement is better than no movement. You may want to lay in bed and watch TV or sleep all day, but try to force yourself to do something. Staying still is the most dangerous thing you can do for your physical and mental health.
Although your accident is behind you, you’re still dealing with the fallout. It’s a scary, traumatic time in your life. You shouldn’t try to handle the aftermath, including any feelings of depression, alone. Take these three steps to move forward and regain control of your life.