Being involved in a serious accident can be life-changing, but can a car accident cause depression? Broken bones, back injuries, and whiplash are injuries that, with the right medical care, can often be overcome. However, when someone suffers a brain injury in an auto accident, slip and fall, or other serious accident, the symptoms are often more insidious and wide ranging. Conditions like depression and anxiety can become apparent post head-trauma, and require an extensive amount of time to heal and learn to manage effectively. Therefore, it is extremely important to obtain medical treatment as soon as possible after an accident.
Changes In Mental Health Originating From Accident Trauma
Depression and anxiety are serious mental health conditions that can have a major impact on a person’s life. These conditions often emerge throughout the natural course of someone’s life without there being a trigger for them. However, both depression and anxiety can also be caused by head trauma or events relating to an accident. It’s no secret that car accident victims often suffer from health issues beyond physical injuries, but post-traumatic stress disorder tends to be one of the only mental health conditions referenced in this context.
Depression is the persistent, long-term feeling of sadness or loss of interest in daily activities that interferes with someone’s life and does not improve over time. It can lead to a range of behavioral and physical symptoms. These symptoms can include changes in sleep patterns, appetite, energy level, concentration, daily behavior, or self-esteem. Depression can also be associated with thoughts of suicide or self harm, as well as be cyclical instead of constant. The symptoms of depression vary, depending on the person, but will often include:
- A sudden difficulty concentrating on tasks that used to be trivial
- Changes in appetite, such as a drastic loss in appetite or binge eating
- Changes in sleep habits and schedule
- Feeling down, sad, or hopeless about life in general
- Feelings of restlessness
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Sudden change in world view
- General fatigue, or an overall lack of energy
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy like hobbies and social events
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Withdrawing from friends and family
On the other hand, anxiety is characterized by feelings of fear and overthinking that are applied towards situations that normally would not garner such an intense reaction. Worst-case scenario thinking, a skewed view of events, and obsessive thought spirals are all symptoms that can be attributed to anxiety. Anxiety can be generalized or acute; those experiencing generalized anxiety will almost always show mild symptoms, if not severe symptoms. Acute anxiety can show itself as panic attacks, which can make daily events and tasks much more difficult.
Generally, traumatic brain injury survivors who didn’t have previous depression or anxiety, or no history of depression or anxiety within their family history will not understand where these symptoms came from and can even believe that it is due to personal faults that these symptoms began. However, it is important that brain trauma survivors get treatment for these mental conditions. There are many evidence-based treatment options that are proven to work, though it may take time and effort to see results.
Treatment for Depression and Anxiety Induced via Head TraumaWhile it is possible to self-treat for mental disorders, this point of view can be harmful to your case when seeking compensation in court, as well as harmful to your long-term health.
Treatment for mental disorders is often stigmatized, even in an age where help for these conditions is more accessible than ever. People may say that just because you can function in daily life without professional help, that you should not seek further treatment. While it is possible to self-treat for mental disorders, this point of view can be harmful to your case when seeking compensation in court, as well as harmful to your long-term health. Would someone with lactose intolerance not take a lactase supplement just because they can consume lactose without dying? Just because someone is capable of living without professional help does not mean that they shouldn’t seek it out; unhealthy behaviors are unhealthy behaviors regardless of the effect on daily living and treating them can make a massive difference in your overall happiness.
Mental health disorders like depression and anxiety can completely change your day-to-day living experience, and make it difficult to accomplish even ordinary tasks like household chores or basic hygiene. However, clinical treatments for depression and anxiety have evolved rapidly since their inception, and there are now several options that can be individualized for the person at hand.
Those who suffer from depression or anxiety can take a few steps on their own to help alleviate the symptoms that they feel. For example:
- Reducing environmental stresses or “triggers” for unhealthy thoughts and practices. This is especially important for those who suffer from acute anxiety, though total avoidance of triggers can cause new triggers to arise. Professional treatment is best in these cases.
- Exercising when possible; exercising can help regulate chemical releases in your brain, which may substantially help your overall mood.
- Asking loved ones for assistance in tasks that you struggle with by yourself, including and especially everyday occurrences. There is no shame in needing help in mental recovery, just as there is no shame in needing help doing things in recovery from physical trauma.
- Forming habits and adding structure into daily routines– by forming new habits, even the effects of depressive episodes can be managed somewhat.
There are more intensive options available for those who suffer with more severe forms of anxiety and depression. These can include prescription medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. Often, a combination of both or an amalgamation of different medications and psychotherapies is necessary to achieve a good mental balance and manage symptoms effectively. However, every person is different, and treatment plans are tailor made to fit personal needs. A doctor can help accident victims navigate their treatment options more extensively to find the right fit for them.
A popular pharmaceutical option can be an antidepressant. Antidepressants come in a variety of forms and types, with doctors generally starting with prescribing an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) before moving on to other options. An SSRI is usually associated with less side effects while still being effective at higher doses in comparison to other options. Examples of SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa) and escitalopram (Lexapro). Different brands of antidepressants can have different side effects despite having similar or nearly identical components. SSRIs work by managing the levels of serotonin in your brain, as well as other neurotransmitters. Through the management of serotonin, an SSRI can help stop obsessive thinking patterns that are common in both anxiety and depressive episodes.Ultimately, depression and anxiety disorders are real illnesses that do not just disappear on their own.
SSRIs are often taken in conjunction with a psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, as well as other types of therapy, aim to redirect and restructure thoughts related to depression and anxiety in order to make them more manageable in daily situations. When psychotherapy is used with an antidepressant when neither is effective by itself, symptoms can be brought under control and stop being a dominating force in the life of the victim of someone who was involved in brain-related trauma.
Ultimately, depression and anxiety disorders are real illnesses that do not just disappear on their own. Extensive treatment and even inpatient stays can sometimes be required in order for a victim to get back to their previous quality of living. However, there are options that can help treat symptoms of these disorders for accident victims who suffer from depression and anxiety after trauma.
Recovering Compensation for Mental Health Conditions
After a traumatic event such as a motor vehicle accident, recovery can be extremely difficult and hard to navigate while dealing with persistent anxiety and depression. Significant health care expenses are common after trauma, and can be hard to pay when an accident victim has to miss work in order to recover from the emotional distress. Victims of accidents may also have to confront other issues with their physical health while attempting to deal with mental health issues related to their new diagnosis, and even deal with new challenges from interpersonal relationships.
At Palermo Law Group, accident victims have the ability to bring a claim against the party responsible for their injuries. If successful, accident victims can receive compensation for injuries and related issues acquired in the accident. Mental health issues are included in issues that accident victims can be eligible to receive compensation for.
While it is possible to receive compensation for mental health issues caused by the accident, it is difficult to do when the proper steps are not taken in recovery to ensure it is documented. Testimony of a medical expert who evaluated the accident victim and their medical records to determine whether or not the accident actually caused the mental trauma is necessary in this process. Therefore, it is extremely important to go through treatment for mental disorders that arise after an accident; without medical records and a psychological evaluation documenting this process, accident victims will only be able to receive compensation for physical damages and will ultimately be unable to be fairly compensated for mental pain and suffering. If an accident victim begins to experience symptoms of mental conditions that they did not originally have, it is highly recommended that they seek professional diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible for their own wellbeing, as well as for the benefit of their case.
When to Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Victims of an accident injury can have a lengthy and painful road to recovery with overwhelming medical bills, loss of wages, mental health conditions, and physical pain. If you’ve been injured in a car crash, or other personal injury accident, there are various State of Illinois laws that can help you receive compensation. Please contact the law firm of Palermo Law Group at (630) 684-2332 for a free consultation with nationally recognized car accident lawyer, Mario Palermo, regarding the best approach to the legal issue of obtaining compensation for your injuries.