Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
After a Traffic Accident
Each year more than 6 million traffic
accidents occur in the United States. If you've been in an accident, you might
have had many different feelings at the time of the accident and in the days
following it. Some of these feelings might have included the following:
- Trouble believing it really happened
- Nervousness or worry
- Fear or uneasiness
In addition, you might keep
going over the accident in your mind. You might feel like you can't stop
thinking about it.
Most people who have been in an accident have
some (or all) of these feelings. Sometimes, though, these feelings can be so
strong that they keep you from living a normal life after the accident.
What's the difference between normal
feelings after an accident and feelings that are too strong?
For most people who are in a traffic accident,
their feelings go away over time. However, some people's feelings don't go away
or they become stronger, changing the way the people think and act. Strong
feelings that stay with a person for a long time and start to get in the way of
everyday life are signs of a condition called post-traumatic stress. If you have
post-traumatic stress, you may have some of the following problems:
- An ongoing, general feeling of uneasiness
- Problems driving or riding in vehicles
- Not wanting to have medical tests or procedures
- Irritability, or excessive worry or anger
- Nightmares or trouble sleeping
- A feeling that you're not connected to other
events or people
- Ongoing memories of the accident that you can't
How can I cope
with the feelings I have after my accident?
- Talk to your friends and relatives about the
details of the accident and how you thought, felt and acted at the time of
the accident and in the days after it.
- Stay active. Exercise and take part in activities
(anything that doesn't bother your injuries). Your family doctor can help you
figure out how much you can do safely.
- Follow up with your family doctor. He or she can
give you referrals to other health care providers you may need, watch over your
recovery and prescribe any medicine you need.
- Try to get back to your daily activities and
routines. Traffic accidents make some people limit what they do. It's important
to try to get back to your usual activities, even if you're uncomfortable or
scared at first.
- Learn to be a defensive driver. Driving or riding
in cars might be hard after the accident. You can lower your risk of future
accidents or injuries by driving carefully, wearing your seat belt at all times
and avoiding distractions while you're driving. Never drive when you're tired.
Don't drive if you've had alcohol or taken drugs or medicines that affect your