Exploring the Mental Effects of a Traumatic Injury

If you or someone you love has recently been involved in a serious accident or collision leading to personal injury, you may wonder how to handle the emotional and psychological effects that victims commonly experience. While physical injuries like whiplash, broken bones and traumatic brain injuries are often discussed following an accident (and rightfully so), the emotional distress and lingering psychological effects caused by life-altering injuries are just as significant and important to understand.

Each year, thousands of Albertans in urban centres like Edmonton and Calgary face the difficult reality of building a path forward following a major incident. Knowing the long-term mental challenges of such an event is key for recovery and can help keep you, as well as those you love, safe when it matters most. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the lesser-discussed aspects of personal injuries, focusing on the mental toll victims face. Read on to learn more!

Looking Under the Surface

In the immediate aftermath of an accident, it can be easy to fixate on the physical harm and factors involved. There is certainly no denying that the pain caused by obvious injuries can be devastating and that it’s important to have the support you need during recovery. That being said, it is equally important to be aware that physical injuries are far from the only outcome in a collision or major incident. Injury victims often suffer from profound suffering regarding their mental wellness and cognitive functioning due to the immense stress and distress caused by collisions and severe impacts.

Studies have shown that 1 in 3 people will experience depression after a traumatic injury, with the number rising to 50% for those who suffer from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). This means that, for those facing the road to recovery, the mental effects can often be just as daunting to overcome as physical pain. If you’re facing debilitating mental and/or emotional distress following an incident, it’s crucial to know that your feelings and struggles are valid and that you are entitled to support and relief from your suffering.

Common mental/emotional conditions associated with life-altering physical injuries include:

Clinical Depression

The unfortunate reality of serious incidences and collisions is that they are, by nature, significantly traumatic events. Surviving a car accident, heavy impact, or major injury-causing event disrupts our lives profoundly, and oftentimes victims will feel overwhelmed with grief or sadness. It’s important to note that sadness and grief are normal responses to traumatic events. Still, when these emotions and their related thoughts become so prevalent that they actively hinder your quality of life, it’s imperative to seek additional help from vetted medical professionals.


Simply put, accidents and life-altering events are frightening. Sudden traumas can significantly shake our self-confidence and leave us facing random bouts of anxiety surrounding returning to the same activities (i.e. operating a vehicle, using machinery, crossing the street as a pedestrian, etc.), and even the development of deep phobias that hinder our ability to live normally.


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has, thankfully, become a better-known issue associated with major accidents and injuries in recent years. Those suffering from PTSD are often unaware of the depth to which they have been affected by their accident but may also find themselves struggling with nightmares, depression, paranoia, mood swings, and more. PTSD can make day-to-day activities difficult, and without proper support and access to treatment, can lead to self-destructive behaviours that pose highly negative risks to victims.

Chronic Pain

The pain caused by major accidents often, unfortunately, lasts a lifetime. Chronic pain can be difficult to diagnose because, as with many other mental challenges related to accidents, it can take longer than you might anticipate to fully manifest. While more physical symptoms like tinnitus or sciatica may become evident in the short-term, long-term psychological suffering caused by an incident can take weeks, months, or even years to be identified. Chronic pain is linked to other mental symptoms, such as insomnia, depression, and anxiety. This means that it’s vital not only to see a doctor immediately following an accident for your physical health but to document and receive support for your mental and emotional well-being.

Long Lasting Emotional and/or Psychological Impairment

In the event of a traumatic event that leads to a traumatic brain injury, victims may find themselves facing long-term or permanent changes to their brain chemistry, including emotional regulation and mental cognition. Tied in with other challenges like anxiety and depression following an accident, it is not uncommon for those suffering from a TBI to face significant difficulty in processing the realities of daily living, navigating the workspace, maintaining normal relationships and more. Having the right support medically and legally can give you peace of mind while facing such challenges and building your road to recovery.

Support You Can Trust

At James H. Brown and Associates, we know firsthand just how difficult it can be to recover from a life-altering personal injury. With over 250 years of combined legal experience, our team is proud to partner with Edmontonians and injury victims across Alberta to make sure you have the support and guidance you need when it matters most. Our trusted team of injury lawyers understands that every case is unique, and we’ll always be on your side to give you the voice you deserve when it comes to defending your health and happiness in the future. With James H. Brown and Associates, you can pursue the legal and medical support you need with peace of mind.

Contact us today to speak to an injury lawyer and book a free, no-obligation consultation with our team of award-winning injury lawyers.

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