When you think of ways that people get hurt in car accidents, you often think of physical injuries first: broken bones, cuts and lacerations, traumatic brain injuries. When people say in amazement that someone “walked away without a scratch,” the implication is that the person is fine.

That’s not always the case. Even if you do not suffer serious physical injuries, you may feel very far from fine.

Mental complications

The problem is that traumatic and frightening events, like getting in a car accident, can still cause serious mental issues after the wreck. Many people feel terrified to drive, for instance, developing a phobia. Others deal with constant stress and anxiety. Still others have flashbacks and cannot forget about the crash.

All of these things can drastically impact your life. You may appear fine to those on the outside, but only you know what you are really struggling with.

One man’s story

One man was involved in just this type of accident when another car cut him off, failing to yield the right of way, and caused an accident at an intersection. The man did not get physically hurt in the collision. Neither did anyone else. The man didn’t even have to go to the hospital.

He started meeting with professionals after the accident, though, when he developed a panic disorder. His anxiety became debilitating, and the once-successful businessman could no longer work. He also struggled with feeling like his situation was hopeless, like he could never get over this mental hurdle.

The man’s anxiety did come and go, leading him to say it was episodic. Some of those episodes were more intense than others. Typically, he struggled with issues like chest pressure, depersonalization, shortness of breath, tremulousness and palpitations.

These symptoms usually hit multiple times every day. Most episodes ran between 15 minutes and 20 minutes.

Inability to drive

Needless to say, these panic attacks took a serious toll. Since he felt like he could not avoid them, he even stopped driving. Reports indicate that he did not do it because he thought he might get in a second crash — a common fear for many people — but because he worried that he would have a panic attack behind the wheel.

Changing your life

Needless to say, these types of mental issues can change your life. This man could not drive, could not work and had to worry about the onset of his symptoms every single day. He did not think he could ever get through it, and he had to pay medical bills to meet with professionals who provided assistance.

Have you been in a car accident? Even without physical injuries, you can suffer for weeks, months or even years after the crash. Make sure you know what legal rights you have.