There are many forms of shock that follow a car accident - the initial shock of the event is often followed by the shock of the trauma. This later shock can occur any time, from moments after the car accident to hours or even days after.
It's completely normal for anyone involved in a car crash to feel emotional afterwards - any number of different emotions can be felt, all of which are normal and it's important to know that it’s ok to seek help to manage it.
Even smaller bumper bashes can trigger emotional trauma. Trauma can take shape in the form of nightmares, fear, aggression or even unwanted weight-loss. Recovery from mental trauma can be difficult - and sometimes you will need to seek help. Some of the emotional effects can include:
Denial or disbelief
It’s normal for denial or disbelief to set in following a car accident. Emotions can be different for everyone, but common signs include feeling numb to the situation, emotional distress or feeling afraid when talking about it.
Anger or irritability
Many people feel anger after an accident - perhaps you were not at fault, but it’s normal for a rush of anger to take over. Perhaps you are angry at the other driver or even at the situation as a whole. While it’s easy to take anger or irritability out on other people, it’s healthier to rather take a few deep breaths and calm yourself down in the heat of the moment. Your feelings are a normal and valid part of a stressful situation, but it’s important to remember that you don’t need to act upon the feelings.
Guilt or shame
Guilt or shame following an accident are also very common emotions. Perhaps you feel that you could have avoided the car accident, and have thoughts of “what I could have done differently”. However, accidents happen.
Anxiety or fear
Not at fault drivers often deal with residual anxiety or fear following their accidents. Symptoms of anxiety can include, but aren’t limited to, worrying; inability to sleep or relax; or feeling irritable.