How Accident Trauma Can Affect You

Posted on February 6th, 2024
A car accident at night with a tow truck in the background

If you or a loved one are struggling to deal with the aftereffects of an accident, then it’s likely that you’re experiencing accident trauma. Accidents such as vehicle accidents, terrible sports injuries, and more can have a significant impact on a person’s emotional, mental, and physical well-being.

After an accident, many people focus on healing any physical wounds, and emotional scars can be overlooked. Accident trauma can be completely overwhelming, and the recurring shock of the accident can cause you to go into a state of dissociation or hypervigilance. In fact, your brain will adapt a defense mechanism to deal with stressful, overwhelming events, and in some cases, it can significantly alter brain function and structure.

In this blog, we’re going to take a look at the ways that accident trauma can affect you or a loved one.

Changes How Your Body Responds to and Perceives Danger

Our bodies are well adapted to respond to dangerous situations. However, someone struggling with accident trauma could perceive danger when there is none, or their bodies could cause them to overreact to the level of danger present.

Our bodies release cortisol and adrenaline when we are stressed or threatened, and someone with accident trauma will release heightened amounts of these hormones. This triggers what we know as “fight or flight” mode. However, there are a number of different ways that your body could respond other than just those two options.

  • Freeze: This is when you feel paralyzed and unable to move or react.
  • Flop: Going through the motions and doing what you’re told without protest.
  • Fawn: Continually trying to please someone you perceive as a threat/trying to mitigate the threat.

This constant state of hypervigilance means that you are constantly viewing the world as a threat, which can then lead to deeper mental health issues.


Many people experience dissociation during a traumatic event or in the immediate moments afterward. However, people who have long-term trauma from an accident could continue to have moments of dissociation for a long time after the event.

When you dissociate, you feel as if you are disconnected from yourself and the world around you. Many people describe dissociation as the experience of watching something happen to your body without being in it. However, others might completely blackout and have no recollection of their dissociative state.

Dissociation is just one of the ways in which your mind copes with overwhelming levels of stress. These experiences can last just a short period of time (minutes to hours), or for much longer (days to months). In some cases, dissociation happens as a result of a trauma trigger, as your body tries to cope with perceived danger, but it often turns into a learned behavior as a way of coping with stressful experiences that may have nothing to do with the traumatic event itself.

Physical Health Issues 

Numerous studies have shown how trauma can make you more vulnerable to developing physical health issues, such as long-term and chronic illness. Lasting and latent trauma from accidents can trigger immune and endocrine problems.

Being in a constant state of hypervigilance means that your body is producing high levels of cortisol, which can be toxic at chronically high levels. This leads to an increased risk of health conditions such as depression, heart disease, anxiety, and much more.

Inflammation is a chronic condition that is often associated with long-term trauma. While it is necessary as a short-term response to damage, it’s also the main culprit behind autoimmune diseases and heart disease.

Self-destructive Behaviors

Self-destructive behaviors are part of the cluster of emotional avoidance techniques used by people who have experienced trauma. These behaviors are actions that are sure to harm the person doing them, whether it’s physical or emotional.

Traumatic experiences or mental health conditions are known to increase the risk of these behaviors. Of course, that doesn’t mean that all people with accident trauma will become self-destructive or that those who take part in these activities are suffering from trauma.

Self-destructive behavior can range anywhere from driving too fast and taking unnecessary risks to gambling, self-harm, or substance abuse. These habits are used as a temporary way of coping or distraction from emotional pain, distress, or discomfort. However, they can’t suppress trauma forever, and self-destructive habits can become more frequent or more intense in a big to numb or avoid triggered feelings.

The Naked Accident Trauma Program

As you can see, accident trauma can have a significant impact on your life. Trauma can threaten your personal identity and have life-altering physical and mental consequences if it is not dealt with. The Naked Accident Traum Program has been specifically designed to help people learn about accident trauma and to give them the tools and mechanisms that they need to fully recover.

Our trained trauma therapists support you while you process your accident trauma and regain control over your life. We are with you every step of the way as you deal with and heal from the impacts of trauma caused by the accident.

Contact us for more information.

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