How a Car Accident Can Wreck Your Mental Health

Ah, Canadian winter! We ski and skate, and snowboard. We shovel snow and sprinkle salt on sidewalks.

Last thing you want to happen in extremely cold weather is catching a nail in the tire and being stopped cold in your tracks.

A few days ago disaster struck – I had a flat tire. This was certainly unpleasant and made me take a taxi to reach a destination and spend a few hours next day replacing the tire, but overall the trauma was minor. It made me think though about people, who suffer serious or even minor car or pedestrian accidents in winter – or any other season, for that matter.

As I work with quite a few people who need psychotherapy after being in accidents, it always strikes me that while the physical symptoms tend to improve with time, psychological problems usually come with some delay and would get worse with time if left untreated.

It seems to me that while people are very resilient and are able to function and carry on with their lives despite significant stressors or difficult issues experienced throughout life, they sometimes succumb to severe depression and anxiety after being in an accident. Why?

  • Following a sudden and completely unexpected trauma of an accident, the person is pretty badly shaken.

  • It has no rhyme or reason, so to speak, and does not make any sense for the brain.

  • It seems to weaken the person’s ability to be strong and withstand what he or she was perfectly able to cope with before.

  • Add to that the physical pain, loss of employment and financial stability, inability to perform the habitual activities of daily life or enjoy its pleasures.

Relational problems often follow, as people get irritable, lose sleep, are unable to concentrate etc. At this time old psychological trauma or something that influences your view of life, family dynamics or relational issues, even problems at work can all of a sudden become unbearable and start to affect your life, causing you to fall into deeper and deeper despair.

I hope this winter does not bring you this kind of trouble.

Yours Katya Razumova