Being involved in a vehicle accident can prove to be traumatic, even if there were no major injuries sustained. The adrenaline, fear, chaos, and a myriad of other emotions that occur the instant an accident happens can cause individuals to become overwhelmed, and later these individuals can develop what the Huffington Post refers to as “driving anxiety.”
Post-accident driving anxiety can develop regardless of the actual outcome of the accident, or how the accident occurred. Some people are afraid that they will be involved in another accident, even if the odds of another accident occurring are very low. In extreme cases, even the thought of driving or riding in a vehicle can cause anxious thoughts and/or feelings, preventing them from driving or being a passenger in a vehicle. Those who suffer from sever anxiety fear that they will experience a panic attack while driving, which could cause another accident. Individuals who were driving when an accident occurred that harmed other individuals could carry a fear of injuring others should they get back behind the wheel.
Anxiety after a car accident is common, and can be combatted in a variety of ways. Psychotherapy, good self-care, driving courses, and medication are all viable options to help combat post-accident anxiety.
Benefits of Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is one of the most common avenues that individuals turn to when seeking relief from post-accident anxiety. There are various types of psychotherapy, and most therapists are well-versed in a variety of methods and should be able to determine the best course of action on a case-by-case basis.
Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on how our thoughts affect our behaviors. In this method, individuals learn how their thoughts affect their anxiety and learn to find ways to relax, practice realistic thinking, face fears, and perform other similar tasks.
Exposure and response prevention therapy is often used to combat particular phobias. Therapists typically ask patients to perform a series of tasks that are directly related to the source of their fear. In the case of driving anxiety, tasks would likely include sitting in the car, driving on a side street, driving on a main street, etc. The tasks the individual is asked to perform would increase in anxiety-inducing situations and would be repeated until the anxiety is gone.
Benefits of Self-Care
Taking care of oneself through a healthy diet, exercise, getting enough rest, quality time with loved ones, etc. can help reduce anxiety. Taking time to process the accident and anxious thoughts and feelings surrounding it in a safe place at a comfortable pace can be helpful.
Driving courses can help combat anxiety in an environment that feels safe and controlled. Having an instructor accompany an individual while they get back into the driver’s seat can help regain a sense of control, boost confidence, and likely will improve upon driving skills.
Although medication is a big step and should always be approached with the advisement of a doctor, it can help individuals with severe anxiety issues.