Recovery after an accident can be hard, but it’s important to recognize that these emotional effects are normal and it’s important to seek help to manage them.

Emotional distress after an accident can lead to many symptoms including:

Guilt-Self Blame
Anxiety/Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Social Withdrawal/Isolation

These symptoms can severely interrupt an individual’s life and may cause them difficulty in going to work, attending school, or even getting out of bed in the morning.  Some people may be too fearful of another accident to get back in the car.


Immediately after an accident, and for several days afterwards, people usually experience being in shock.  Shock can feel different for everyone, but common symptoms include:  feeling numb, being in emotional distress, continuing to feel afraid even though the event is over, or having unpredictable mood swings.  You can also experience shock after an accident even if you weren’t driving the car at the time, if you were a passenger, a pedestrian, or even an observer in another vehicle.


After an accident, the driver can feel angry at the driver of the other vehicle, whether they were at fault or not.  Many passengers can also feel angry at both drivers involved.  It’s easy to take this anger out on everyone around you when these irritated, agitated feelings continue.


Many drivers blame themselves over the accident, especially if they think it was avoidable.  Sometimes even those who witness a crash can blame themselves for not being able to prevent the crash or provide help, or ideas they may have about what they “could have done”.  It’s helpful to remind yourself that these expectations of yourself are not realistic.


Anxiety is a natural reaction to a stressful incident such as a car accident.   Some people experience no symptoms of anxiety at all after a crash, and most people who do experience anxiety will recover in time.  But for others, post-traumatic stress disorder can develop.  Common symptoms include:

  • inability to relax
  • difficulty concentrating
  • feeling unsociable, not wanting to talk
  • problems sleeping
  • recurring memories of the accident
  • terrifying nightmares
  • low energy levels
  • feeling upset, confused, helpless

One of the easiest ways to fight anxiety/PTSD is to talk about it.  Family, friends, a qualified counsellor/psychologist are all good options and people you can trust.  Medical co-managemnt and returning to your regular routine is also a helpful way to combat anxiety.

Most people will eventually have to get back in the car after an accident.  It is very normal to feel anxious about returning, and driving more cautiously than before.  Having help during this process with a qualified driving therapist is a great way to provide comfort and support.


Feelings of sadness or depression after a car accident are very common and often go hand in hand with the symptoms of anxiety. As with anxiety, the best way to treat this after an accident is to talk about it, take care of yourself and get help when you need it.


During shock, it’s natural to stay away from people who may want to ask a lot of questions about the crash because you may feel isolated, as if no one understands what you’re going through.  Ironically, those feelings of isolation can be countered by surrounding yourself with family and friends to receive support and reassurance.

Along with creating a recovery plan for physical injuries following a motor vehicle accident, APEX Health Network has professionals who will also focus on your emotional recovery.  This plan is not a one size fits all, it is customized to each individual’s needs.  Make one call to APEX to take care of you physically and mentally.  Your recovery starts here.


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