As anyone who has experienced a car accident can attest, being involved in a traffic accident can be a harrowing and terrifying experience. The more serious a car accident is, the more likely the people involved will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition that significantly impacts your mental health and well-being. In case of a car accident, visit car accident chiropractors near you to get immediately diagnosed you for any injuries and to get a specific treatment plan for your needs.
Car accidents are a frequent fact in our everyday lives here in the United States, where there are over two hundred million registered drivers out on the road each day. Police departments across the country reported around seven million car accidents in 2019, resulting in at least two million injuries and at least forty thousand deaths. Car accidents that end in death can have a particular effect on the mental health of survivors, and deaths related to traffic accidents were reported at an all-time high in 2020.
So what do you do when you have a loved one who has survived a collision or car accident injuries? It can be difficult to figure out the best, most tactful way to express the way you feel. The best option is usually to speak from your heart and try to understand what your loved one is going through.
First and foremost, let your loved one know how glad you are that they made it out alive. If a death occurred during a car accident, the survivor may experience feelings of guilt and even suicidal ideation. However, it is more important now than ever to let them know that they are loved. Research tells us that strong social bonds are an important protective factor in recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder. Remind your loved one that they can lean on you for support, and share with them your love and gratitude for their continued existence.
Ask What They Need
Your loved one may be experiencing shock after their car accident. They may feel overwhelmed or have needs that they are unable to express to others. It can be difficult, in such a state, to ask for help or to take care of basic needs. Sometimes, people dealing with mental distress, like in the case of post-traumatic stress disorder, have trouble managing basic hygiene. This can be exacerbated if they are caring for others or are dealing with an injury. Offer help in any way you can, and be specific. Perhaps you can take the kids for an evening or do a few loads of laundry. Maybe they need a small amount of financial support. Whatever it is, offer it, and follow through.
Researchers have known for years that social support can help protect people from PTSD symptoms, but it has recently become apparent that the perception of social support can be even more of a contributing factor. It is not enough to simply say that you feel sorry for the person who has been affected, but you can try to show that you care for them by supporting them in more material ways.
Show Your Care with a Meal
You are probably familiar with the idea of a meal train. Many friends and families participate in such rituals after the birth of a baby or the death of a loved one, by taking turns bringing meals to the family in need. In fact, this desire to “feed” people after they experience major life changes is connected to our basic human empathy, and by providing meals, we are attempting to show others that we empathize with their problems and care for them.
Comfort food has biological and social functions; it helps regulate the nervous system and can provide opportunities to talk with others in ways that help us de-stress. If someone you know has recently been involved in a car accident, consider arranging a meal train for them, or simply bring them something that you enjoy eating. Keep it simple, and make sure to ask ahead of time about any dietary restrictions. Ask if you can stay awhile and share a meal. Be prepared to be told no because your loved one may prefer to be alone. Even still, this simple act of sharing food can bring a lot of relief to a person who is dealing with the emotional fallout of being in a car accident.
Monitor for Injuries
Of course, this does not always work for every relationship, but for people who are close to you and who are comfortable sharing such information, you can be helpful by helping them monitor for injuries or other symptoms. There are several conditions that can arise as a result of a car accident that may not be apparent for a few hours or even days. Such conditions include concussions and whiplash, two of the most common delayed injuries after car collisions. However, it is important not to overstep. Many people keep medical information private, and some do not appreciate advice coming from anyone but their doctors.
Send a Message
If you know a victim of a car accident who does not live nearby, send them a thoughtful message. You can send a short text message that lets them know that you are thinking of them, or you can send a longer email that expresses your gratitude for their survival and your empathy for what they are going through.
In the era of video chatting and remote gatherings, it is also a possibility that you could contact them using technology. Seeing a friendly face might do a world of good, and it can help them take their mind off what they have experienced.
Whatever works best for you, the best way to help someone after a car accident is to show that you support them and care for them in whatever way you can. Research shows that social support is one of the most important factors for helping people avoid serious, long-term trauma as a result of a tragic accident. By reaching out and showing that you care, you are helping to prevent more serious complications with their mental health later on.