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5 Psychological Side-Effects of a Car Accident


Side-effects of a car accident 

Experiencing a car accident is a stressful time, both on the mind and the body. Even a small fender bender can cause undue stress when considering time lost from work and the financial implications.

While the physical impacts on the body are one thing, the emotional issues are quite another and can be quite long-lasting. Here are five psychological side-effects of a car accident to look out for. 

Emotional Outbursts

It’s common to experience mood swings and emotional outbursts in the days following a car accident. After all, your body is responding to trauma, and the insurance world isn’t always easy to navigate. Being unable to go to work and knowing that you could have an increased financial burden as a result of the accident are triggers for stress. 

Feelings of sudden anger or unprompted episodes of crying, while common, should still be managed. Try and give yourself five seconds to take a breath and calm down when these feelings emerge and refrain from projecting your feelings toward someone else.


Many people are surprised to discover that depression is a common side-effect of a car accident. This psychological impact is especially important to be aware of, especially with those who already have a history of mental illness.

Symptoms of car accident depression include:

  • Disinterest in hobbies
  • Appetite loss
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of ambition or motivation
  • Isolation
  • Excessive negativity
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you start to notice any of these signs within yourself or a loved one who has experienced a car accident, it’s important to reach out for help. 


Many people develop anxiety after experiencing a car accident. In most cases, the anxiety directly correlates as a response to driving. However, some people start to experience anxiety in all aspects of their life.

If you’ve been in an accident and start to feel anxious about being behind the wheel again, know that you’re not the only one. It’s completely normal to be hesitant in driving after an accident, regardless of if it was a fender bender or a severe occurrence. 

That being said, if this anxiety starts to creep into other aspects of your life or becomes debilitating, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help.


Some of the causes of post-accident insomnia relate to physical issues caused by the accident rather than psychological issues. For example, if you have whiplash, it can be challenging to find a comfortable position for sleeping. After a few nights without sleep, your natural rhythms may get disrupted, causing a longer lasting issue.

Others experience insomnia as a stress response to the accident. Insomnia can be tied to nightmares or anxiety that causes racing thoughts when you lie down to go to bed. As you start to become sleep deprived, these issues can intensify, creating a vicious cycle.


It’s common to have some psychological side-effects in the first few weeks after an accident. If, however, you are still experiencing impacts from the trauma a few months after the fact, you may have PTSD. 

It’s estimated that 39% of people who experience a motor vehicle accident will develop PTSD as a result. Vehicular accidents are the primary cause of PTSD in the general population. You’re more likely to develop PTSD if you perceived your life to be in immediate danger, have a history of mental illness, and lack emotional and social support after the accident.

Some of the common signs of PTSD include:

  • Avoidance
  • Intrusive thoughts and memories
  • Personality changes
  • Emotional instability

After a trauma, these symptoms are not uncommon and generally go away as time passes. With PTSD, the issues tend to escalate as time goes by.

Getting Help

If you’re struggling with the psychological impacts of an accident, you’re not alone. Talk to a trusted friend or a loved one about your experience, and consider reaching out for professional help. Depending on the nature of the accident, you can receive compensation to help you during this difficult time.

Between 20 and 50 million people are injured in a car accident every year. You’re not alone. It’s vital that you get information and seek help after you’ve experienced this type of accident.