It’s normal and expected to experience emotional distress following a car crash, as it can be a traumatic event. Even if you weren’t the one driving, being in the vehicle or even witnessing a serious crash can be very disturbing.

As your physical injuries after a crash begin to heal, you may become more aware of the emotional toll it’s taken on you. You may experience depression, anxiety, fear, insomnia, nightmares and mood changes. You may even be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How can you help your state of mind?

It’s important to practice some extra self-care if the crash is taking an emotional toll on you. Even if you don’t feel like it, it’s essential to eat properly, get some exercise (to the extent you’re able, with your injuries) and get enough sleep. It may be good to talk to family and friends about the crash, reiterating the fact that you survived it.

It can help to focus on the things you can control. For example, while you may not have been able to avoid being in the path of a drunk driver, you can help ensure your safety by being fully focused on the road and avoiding distractions of any kind. You can wear your seatbelt and use all of the safety technology that’s included in your car.

When should you seek professional help?

What if you’re having trouble getting back to your normal life, you’re constantly replaying the crash in your head and/or are afraid to get behind the wheel or even in a car again? You may need to see a mental health professional who can help you process what happened to you and begin to move on.

Just as your medical treatment, physical therapy and other care for physical injuries should be covered by the at-fault driver and their insurance company, so should any psychological care you need. It’s completely reasonable (and not at all uncommon) to seek compensation for treatment by a mental health provider, for lost wages if your anxiety has made it impossible to work and for other damages related to your trauma.

An experienced attorney can help you recover that compensation, but the sooner you begin that process, the better your chances of success will be.