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How To Stop A Personal Injury Episode From Becoming A Long Term Psychological Issue?

personal injury

After a personal injury incident like an assault, hit, and run, or abuse, most people focus on the financial implications of the future along with the costs of the recovery process. It becomes easy to side-line serious mental issues that are a natural by-product of personal injury episodes in a financially demanding situation. Unfortunately, the cost of neglecting mental repercussions arising from a personal injury can be very high. These may snowball into long term mental health problems, phobias, substance abuse, anger management problems, and even depression.

If the personal injury has been harsh and there is lasting physical evidence, there is a 40% more chance of severe depression to strike and a fair chance of such depression becoming chronic or even fatal. A personal injury victim's mental health is as important as physical health though the former is often not given much importance. As an aware individual, you can do much to ensure that a personal injury episode does not become a long term psychological issue.

Recognize Early Symptoms

The earlier psychological disturbances arising from a personal injury are detected, the easier it is to resolve them. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury, then look for tell-tale signs like mood swings and emotional liability. Emotional liability can be termed as a set of violently opposing emotions displayed in quick succession. Often, victims display emotional responses that are vastly disproportionate to triggers, and sometimes there is no trigger. In case the personal injury involves brain injury, such psychological responses cannot be treated by self-help modalities and need the intervention of a trained psychology clinic with competent and experienced staff. Anxiety is another early warning symptom of future phobias.

In some cases, anxiety attacks are pronounced enough to be termed as panic attacks. In many cases, the victim feels unable to process the incident, concentrate on simple tasks, or resolve simple problems leading to a general feeling of anxiety and helplessness. Anxiety, if left unchecked, has a 70% chance of developing into PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that will need a full-fledged psychological intervention like CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Theory) and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization technique). Some victims begin to feel worthless or useless, and if these symptoms are not recognized in the short term, the person loses interest in life and begins courting suicidal thoughts.

Self Help Modalities For Coping With Personal Injury

It is vital to talk and process the personal injury incident as soon as possible to lessen the intensity of negative emotions associated with it. Talking to friends and supportive peers may help to relieve some feelings of anxiety and helplessness. Suppose a loved one suffering a personal injury is displaying highly excitable behavior. In that case, you need to remain calm and compose yourself and preferably remove the affected person to a quiet area.

Listening to calm instrumental music is a good way to phase off stress and engage in creative art forms like painting, pottery, and drawing. Suppose the personal injury has not caused movement restrictions, then spending a few hours in light exercise is also recommended as exercise stimulates the flow of positive hormones and leads to a more relaxed and balanced state of mind. Even if the personal injury victim cannot engage in exercise, the mere proximity of nature can help calmer feelings of anxiety, fear, and rage.

Though a support group's presence can be critical, the victim often has to decide to accept and reverse the traumatic feelings associated with personal injury to avoid their escalation into a long-term psychological problem. It may become necessary to learn basic anger management techniques, self-management strategies, relaxation, and deep breathing techniques. At a later stage, it becomes important to process and objectify the personal injury episode and come to terms with it as an incident and not as a defining moment of life.

When to seek Clinical Help?

It is important to recognize three critical scenarios when the intervention of a trained psychologist becomes necessary. The first scenario is PTSD is discussed earlier in the article. The second scenario is MDD (Major depressive disorder) that manifests itself through persistent fatigue, wavering concentration, loss/gain of weight, insomnia, lack of enjoyment, etc. The third situation is persistent anxiety that refuses to fade away even after 2 to 3 months after the injury incident. Remember, the graver the incident; the higher are the requirements for professional psychological intervention.

Author
Dr. Neda Khodaparast Neda Khodaparast, PsyD, QME, is the founder and CEO of The Green Room Psychological Services Inc. in San Diego, California. Dr. Khodaparast earned her doctorate from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology in Boston. She has over 15 years in clinical practice providing individual and couple therapy, as well as conducting forensic evaluations for personal injuries, civil cases, immigration evaluations, and pre surgical clearance psychological evaluations. She has also been conducting medical-legal worker’s compensation evaluations as a Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME) Since 2014. Dr. Khodaparast specializes in utilizing psychodynamic orientation and focuses on treating trauma and PTSD including childhood sexual and physical abuse, sexual assualt’s survivors, war truama, as well as eating disorders, and adoption related issues. She appreciates the complexity of human’s psyche and understands the process and the importance of “meeting the patients where they at.”

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