Psychological Injuries Common After a Car Crash

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Physical injuries, like broken bones, are almost iconic after a car crash. But psychological injuries are common too. A car crash can cause new mental health problems or aggravate existing conditions. Here are some psychological injuries after a car crash, and what you can do about them. 

Acute or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Most people think of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a condition suffered by war veterans or emergency responders — people who see the worst of the world. But any traumatic event can cause a strong stress response that interferes with your life. And that includes a car crash. Acute traumatic stress disorder (which is diagnosed in the first few months after a traumatic event) and it’s more long-lasting cousin PTSD, cause you to:

  • Relive the event (in nightmares, flashbacks, or in response to triggers)
  • Avoid situations that remind you of the event
  • Change the way you think or feel about yourself or others
  • Feel jittery (called hyperarousal)


An anxiety diagnosis may not seem like a big deal compared to a traumatic brain injury or spinal problems. But when general anxiety includes panic attacks it can cause abrupt interruptions into a person’s daily life. Panic attacks are sudden feelings of terror that strike without warning. They can cause the car crash victim to believe they are having a heart attack, dying, or going crazy.

A car crash can trigger anxiety symptoms including panic attacks. Many crash victims particularly feel increased anxiety when driving in conditions similar to the cause of the crash such as in snow, fog, or on freeways.


Depression is surprisingly common after a car crash. Physical injuries cause a person to go through prolonged hospital stays, rehabilitation, or time away from work and social connections. Loss of ability, particularly when a person becomes dependent on others for his or her daily life, can be hard on anyone. Sometimes, the sadness that comes from facing a car crash victim’s new reality can cross the line into full depression. When that happens a person may suffer:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, or pessimism
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and excessive sleeping
  • Insomnia and early wakefulness
  • Persistent headaches, pains, cramps, or digestive problems
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts

Getting Help for Psychological Injuries After a Car Crash

The good news for car crash victims is that there is help available. Psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, and psychiatric medications can all help restore a person to a sound mind and a full life. Psychological injuries cannot be cured overnight, but Michigan motorists don’t have to worry about the cost of treatment.

Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance covers 100% of reasonable and necessary medical expenses after an auto accident including psychological treatment. If you are suffering the lasting effects of a car crash, the auto accident attorneys at Christensen Law can help you get the benefits you need to receive treatment and get back to your life.