The Correlation Between Car Accidents and Mental Health Issues
There is a significant correlation between car accidents and mental health issues. But as you’ll often hear, correlation is not necessarily the same as causation. Understanding the relationship between mental health concerns and car accidents can help you as you navigate your personal injury claim.
Mental Issues and Their Impact on Your Driving Ability
It’s no secret that mental health issues can have a significant impact on various aspects of your life. This extends to one’s ability to operate a car safely. Conditions like generalized anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, PTSD, ADHD, and bipolar disorder can affect your concentration, ability to make good decisions, and reaction times.
For example, people with severe major depressive disorder can often be observed moving far slower than you would expect. Their diagnosis has a physiological impact on their movement, which undoubtedly affects driving. As a result, these conditions may impair cognitive function and lay the groundwork for an accident.
Anxiety disorders are one type of diagnosis that can lead to car accidents. They are characterized by excessive worrying, intrusive thoughts, and an inability to move away from unhealthy trains of thought. This type of cognitive load is very unsafe when you’re driving. PTSD is another diagnosis that may affect your driving—an unexpected flashback or intrusive memory can overwhelm your conscious mind, leaving it unable to focus at all on driving.
Another diagnosis that may impact driving is ADHD. People with ADHD are unable to differentiate the varying levels of importance between stimuli, which makes it hard to act quickly when an obstacle appears on the road.
How Accidents Can Cause or Worsen Mental Illness
Accidents can also have an effect on one’s mental health. In that way, accidents and mental illness can both affect each other at the same time. Car accidents are often traumatic events that can cause a previously mentally healthy individual to develop mental health concerns.
Those with preexisting mental health diagnoses may find that they are worse after an accident. Accident survivors often report acute stress reactions that can cause physical symptoms. Survivors of severe accidents may develop PTSD, which can cause them to relive the accident, experience significant distress when they see anything reminding them of the crash, and pull away from loved ones as they try to cope with their trauma.
Even if the accident itself isn’t enough to cause mental trauma, victims with severe injuries may find that their mental health suffers as a result. People struggling with injuries, chronic pain, and a sudden loss of independence often experience depression, a sense of isolation, and serious mental health issues.
Unfortunately, this type of situation can cause a cycle that forces an individual into ever-worsening mental illness. After experiencing an accident, an individual may be too afraid of driving to get behind the wheel for months. When they finally do, they may struggle to drive on highways, at night, or in other situations that aren’t necessarily ideal. This causes anxiety, which takes attention off the road. The consequence: another accident is even more likely. This cycle tends to repeat until the victim seeks mental health assistance.
What to Do If Your Accident Causes Mental Trauma
Those who develop mental health issues after an accident often feel hopeless about their options. Unfortunately, insurance companies tend to take mental trauma less seriously than they do physical trauma. You’ll need to push to get the fair and full compensation you deserve after a collision.
Consider documenting your mental health issues on a daily basis in a personal injury journal. It’s hard for an insurance adjuster to understand your struggles when they hear “consistent symptoms of depression and inability to drive.” It’s a lot harder for them to ignore “unable to get out of bed three days in a row; has not returned to work since the accident because of panic attacks every time they approach a car.”
You should also seek mental health assistance from a licensed professional. Documentation of your diagnosis, treatment plans, and progress may help you demand fair compensation from the liable party.
Above all, make sure you discuss these issues with a personal injury attorney. They can help you navigate this process.