Anxiety After a Car Accident? Here’s 7 Ways to Recover

cognitive behavioral therapy, driving anxiety, fear of driving
Having anxiety after a car accident is normal, but you don’t want to stay stuck in it. Here’s 7 ways to recover from anxiety after an accident.

I know car accidents are about the last thing that we as anxious drivers want to think about. The reality though is that accidents, although relatively rare, DO happen. Like traffic jams and highways, they are one of the realities of modern transportation, and driving anxiety cannot be overcome by ignoring reality. Having anxiety after a car accident is very common, even normal. A car accident can be a traumatic event that even throws people WITHOUT driving anxiety off their stride for a while.

The problem is that some don’t get over the trauma and keep obsessing — reliving and replaying the accident in their minds, over and over again. When this happens and the person can’t get over their anxiety after an accident, they may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as follows:

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

PTSD is especially common if the accident involves death or injury, but even fender benders can cause PTSD for some people.

If you’re suffering from PTSD or chronic anxiety disorder after a car accident, here’s how you can help yourself start the recovery process:

7 Ways to Recover From Anxiety After a Car Accident

  1. Psychotherapy — Therapy is often the best way for many people to get over trauma-related anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is particularly effective. Look for a qualified CBT therapist in your area.
  2. Hypnotherapy — Hypnosis and/or guided meditation can often resolve traumatic emotions in as little as three sessions. There are many skilled hypnotherapists, including Driving Peace co-founder Andrew Cunningham.
  3. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) — If you’ve never heard of EMDR, it’s a type of psychotherapy that incorporates stimulating the left and right hemispheres of the brain via movement of the eyes. I’ve done some of this work with my therapist and it is AMAZINGLY effective for decreasing anxiety after a car accident. I highly recommend it, although you should only do EMDR with the help of a qualified professional. Click here to search for EMDR professionals in your area.
  4. Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping) — Another type of therapy designed to quickly resolve painful emotions, tapping for anxiety is related to therapies like acupuncture. Note: Tapping does NOT involve needles.
  5. Self care / self love — Practicing good self care, particularly after a traumatic event, is a very important part of recovery. Be gentle with yourself and focus on caring for yourself via good diet, exercise, recreation and spending quality time with friends and family. Your own self love is one of the most powerful healing forces there is.
  6. Medication — Sometimes medication is a useful tool for reducing the impact of traumatic anxiety. Although I don’t believe it’s the best choice, I recognize that everyone’s needs are different and that medication is an appropriate choice for some people. You should only use anxiety medication under the care of a doctor or another qualified health care provider.
  7. Defensive driving course — Some people overcome driving-related PTSD by learning defensive driving skills. This often gives people a more powerful sense of control and of taking charge of the environment behind the wheel. I think learning better driving skills is a GREAT choice under any circumstances, even if it’s not in response to the aftermath of an accident.

Having trauma or anxiety after a car accident is very common and happens to millions of people. Feeling shaken up by an accident is normal, but there’s no need to remain stuck in anxiety or PTSD. Many effective ways of working through car accident anxiety are now available. I hope these suggestions help point you in the right direction.

Namaste,

Greg Weber

82 comments… add one
  • Reverend Naya H. Aug 2, 2018

    Over the course of a couple years I was a passenger in a truck that had cargo which flew out of the back (it was properly strapped down). It was strapping that failed each time. First a 250 gal water tank. All I can remember is, “thank God no one was killed behind us.” Then 2 sheets of drywall and again, “thank God no one was killed. And again, a stack of sheet metal for roofing… it didn’t leave the car but folded back with horrendous noise. We kept buying more and more cargo strapping and getting more and more anxious about having any load on the truck. Really, it wasn’t lack of trying to do it right. And we spent a lot of money on cargo strapping until we had a big and heavy duty collection. Then 10 days ago, a single cargo strap was left hiding in the truck bed under a few cinder blocks. As we are going down the road (a very high wind corridor) the strap somehow got picked up, whipped in the wind, moved between the truck cab and bed, wrapped around the drive shaft and it sent the metal end intothe back window. It sounded like a shotgun blast and the window glass evaporated. My head was turned and the microscopic glass made my face burn and I was shocked there was no blood. I was stunned and thought we had blown a tire but why would a blown tire cause the window to disappear…? The driver was calm. When we stopped I hopped out and checked the tires. Nothing. We couldn’t find anything, nothing at all to explain what had happened. I was shaking violently and decided to call 911. We both started to think we had been shot at by an impatient driver. We had just gone through a long stretch of road construction which had backed up traffic. Everyone was impatient to get moving again. While waiting for a patrol car, we discovered the strap on the drive shaft and figured it out. Now, I am intensely afraid of riding in a truck. I shake, sweat, get breathless, feel like I am going to faint and any noise at all and I crawl out of my skin. I have to close my eyes and I breath in a kind of pant like a woman giving birth. I have nightmares and I am paralyzed at the thought of having to get into a truck. This has been a cumulative experience but it’s just like this last freaky thing broke me. I have been in a lot of car accidents, mostly during my youth when my teenage brother was the driver. None of those affected me like this. Nobody was hurt, nobody died, no blood – yet I am physically a wreck even contemplating having to be in a truck.

    I appreciate the list of ideas for coping.

  • Ani Jul 28, 2018

    Two years ago I was in a car crash (not too serious) but since then I haven’t been able to ride in a car without freaking out at the smallest things. My brother (who was also in the accident) wasn’t affected, this makes some sense because I was hit and he wasn’t. I just want to be able to ride in the car without feeling like I’m going to be hit again.

  • Laura Jun 26, 2018

    I’m 55 and was just in my first accident 6 weeks ago. I was rear ended and hit so hard it pushed me into the vehicle in front of me so my SUV was totaled. Luckily I wasn’t seriously injured but now I’m scared to drive. Every time I look in the rear view mirror and see a big truck coming up behind me I freak out. I’m still so damn angry because my car was in good shape, paid for and I didn’t get enough money from the insurance company to replace my vehicle. Now we have to go in debt again because some idiot wasn’t paying attention.

    • Greg Weber Jun 27, 2018

      Ugh! So unfair!

    • Patricia Jul 29, 2018

      Hi Laura
      I have been in same situation as you. On June 9, 2018 I had to stop for construction on highway and I was rear ended by a transport truck. He hit me so hard he pushed my car in the oncoming lane. I had a head on collision with on coming car. My car was totaled. I suffered what is considered by insurance minor injuries because I have no broken bones. My car was paid and insurance did not give much for car and I had to buy a new vehicle. Now when I’m in the car I am constantly afraid of transport trucks. I am mad, mad, mad. I did not go back to work yet but hope to soon. My fear is travelling to work this winter with the amounts of transport trucks in our area. Some of them I don’t know where they got their driver’s license, they are very dangerous drivers.

  • Amber K Jun 16, 2018

    I’m 17, and a month ago 5/15/18 I was in a terrible accident with my 2 friends Isaiah and Ashanti. We were driving home from a restaurant after the drivers graduation. We were merging onto the interstate. There was enough room to merge on but the guy in the lane that we were trying to merge onto sped up so we couldn’t merge. My friend lost control and started swerving and the car tipped over and started rolling. Ashanti was completely ejected and my legs went through the windshield. We’re all okay thank god. I didn’t break anything just bruised a bunch of stuff pretty badly. But the mental part is so bad. Everytime i’m in a car i get so scared and anxious. Every little thing my mom does when she drives scares me. Switching lanes, the speed of the car, anything. Other cars scare me too with merging and stuff. And nothings helping. I’ve been on the interstate more than once since the accident but it just gets worse. I dread even getting in a car. I feel like i’m losing my mind because none of my other friends have it as bad as me. And they don’t understand how hard this is for me.

  • Kate May 29, 2018

    Today I hit a parked car turning into my work parking lot. There was another car coming towards me and I got nervous for some reason I thought he was going to hit me. I turned the wheel to the right to park right away and didn’t turn the wheel far enough. By the time I realized I was about to hit a parked car I accidentally hit the gas instead of the break and crashed into the car. I’m so embarrassed. And don’t want to drive because of it.

  • Briana Apr 20, 2018

    I was in a really bad car accident December 16, 2017. It wasn’t my fault. I had a green light the other person made a left turn when she shouldn’t have. And I had no way to stop , I was going about 40 mph. I was unconscious, I woke up still being in the car waiting for the paramedics to pry my door open, my face was full of blood. I couldn’t see out my right eye. Everything hurt. Honestly, it was the scariest moment of my life. It happened so quick. I can’t even go by where the accident happened without replaying the accident over again. I’ve tried driving again and my legs and hands shake when I get behind the wheel I start crying. Even as a passenger in the car I get so scared when cars make turns in front of me. I’m absolutely terrified. My car was completely totaled. I don’t know how I made it out alive to be honest.

  • Briana Apr 20, 2018

    I was in a really bad car accident December 16, 2017. It wasn’t my fault. I had a green light the other person made a left turn when she shouldn’t have. And I had no way to stop , I was going about 40 mph. I was unconscious, I woke up still being in the car waiting for the paramedics to pry my door open, my face was full of blood. I couldn’t see out my right eye. Everything hurt. Honestly, it was the scariest moment of my life. It happened so quick. I can’t even go by where the accident happened without replaying the accident over again. I’ve tried driving again and my legs and hands shake when I get behind the wheel I start crying. Even as a passenger in the car I get so scared when cars make turns in front of me. I’m absolutely terrified.

  • EDITH Apr 12, 2018

    hi im sooo sad sitting cant stop crying I was the driver of the car on out way to work some driver hit me on the left passenger back my friend sitting behind me was sleeping in the car she died in the accident while the other back seat passenger is in hospital paralyzed im soo disponded feel its my fault but I was turning in to the right hand road nd the next thing o just heard a hard bang don’t know where that CAR came ffrom remember far off a car was coming on but it was safe to cross the ROAD im a wreck I worked with the lady that passed on it happened three weeks back I see her all around me feel sick

    • Greg Weber Apr 12, 2018

      OMG! 🙁 Edith, I am so, SO sorry! That sounds horribly traumatic. I recommend you get into some kind of therapy right away. I’d hate to see it fester and turn into a painful phobia for you. I’d look into treatment for PTSD. Lots of info about that at HealthyPlace.

    • Lisa Sep 11, 2018

      Edith, my heart breaks for you. I am all shook up after an accident where no-one was injured, I can’t imagine. Please get help, what a terrible trauma for you. There is cheap counseling available if money is an issue, or ask a pastor for help, or your doctor, or staff at hospital where your friend is, someone will be able to point you to help. Of course you are a mess, it is a horrible situation. Hopefully you already have started a healing process, sending you prayer and a hug. It is not your fault, make that your mantra.

  • Josie Mar 24, 2018

    Was driving with my daughter only 3 weeks old coming home from the midwife. Was turning left off a main road close to my house that I had done many times before.
    This time there was construction on my side I assessed when coming down the hill. I stoped before making the turn, Traffic backed up in the first oncoming lane and a man stopped and waved me through. I looked and proceeded but didn’t see the car i comming full speed in the second oncoming lane.
    The front passenger side of my car was hit straight on bending the wheel up and in. I am forever greatful my daughter was on the opposite side behind me and was A ok!! Air bags worked, blew my had off which broke my finger.
    The driver in oncoming lane was very angry with me and upset about his car.

    I have driven since but I get nervous assessing intersections and second guess what I see. Sometimes it takes me longer to make a turn because I freeze and get antsy.
    This has also effected my confidence in other areas of life as well, I get embarrassed easier and feel like I missed something.

  • Missus R Feb 15, 2018

    I had a very minor fender bender three weeks ago, and I can’t shake the anxiety even though it was so minor. I was a little stiff and sore afterward but now that everything is physically ‘ok’ I keep waiting for the NEXT one not to be. I’m embarrassed by this.

    • Liz S Jul 30, 2018

      Missus R- the same thing happened to me yesterday. No one was hurt but i feel so guilty and terrible

  • Mark ang Jan 11, 2018

    i had a car accident last year december
    luckily i have no fracture. 3 days later im feeling better after that tomorrow morning i go to work around 10 am i feel palpitation then i go to the doctor said that i have pstd and im thinking to pray suddenly gone the pain. In a past few days my left head feeling numb then i go self medication i swallow ibufprofen my numb is gone

    i hope my symptons are gone forever
    im a breadwinner to the family

    i believe in prayers because god can heal ailments and worries in life

  • Sam Dec 26, 2017

    I started driving just about a year and a half ago. I bought my own car with all my savings and I tried to be a very defensive driver. I was driving to my class at 9 in the morning. My usual route that I do everyday. I drive past an area where I’ve seen just about 15 kids waiting at for a bus. I see a car in the left turn lane with their right blinker on trying to turn into a driveway. I thought they’d seen me and I continued on but they didn’t and they turned directly infront of me. I drive a truck so it’s not like I have the best brakes. I hit them head on. It’s been a month and I haven’t been able to drive a car since. I sat in the drivers seat of a car and had a panic attack. I am starting classes again soon but I don’t know if I’ll be able to drive another car. I used to love driving.

  • Pamela Nov 27, 2017

    I got into a car crash earlier today, friends teaching me how to drive, I put the car in reverse, or so I thought and the car started going backwards, I got scared and accelerated, hit the side of a house. I got out safe, aside from a few bruises and scratches, but she was so upset and the family in the home came out, I went to the hospital and they said everything was fine, some people even told me the first time they drove they crashed, but it doesn’t make me feel better, all I want to do is cry everytime someone speaks to me.

  • Nicole Nov 26, 2017

    Thanksgiving morning 2017, I was heading home in a rain storm. I hydroplaned past a red light and a commercial Comcast van was coming towards me, but i blacked out before the van even touched me. The van t boned me and my car supposedly flew and a ram 1500 hit me after. I walked away with a concussion and a bunch of bruises. I got hit by 2 large cars… can’t believe it. Idk how I’m supposed to drive a car again. I can’t even step out of my house yet.

  • Janelle Nov 6, 2017

    October 19, 2011. A date I won’t forget. To some it may seem minor but to me terrifying. 2 hours away from home on my way back from a nice Christmas shopping day alone. Driving through the park and mountain 80km/hr max, little bit of snow, dusky so the high beams don’t really help. An 800 pound moose in my path with no time to stop. Single lane road my only option was to swerve and hit a tree or brace myself for impact. Moose came through the windshield knocked me out and moments later I woke up. Realized I was alive, covered in blood and moose hair, shattered glass and terrified. Walked away with a broken arm, torn shoulder and bad concussion. Could have been worse. I saw the photos of my the next day and cried. It took weeks for the cast and wounds to heal but months of rehab to recover. Still recovering emotionally. People don’t understand. Everything time I drive by the site I slow down. I am terrified to drive at night, drive in the park and worse if I see wildlife I have panic attacks. It’s been 6 years and I don’t know what to do. It doesn’t seem to get easier.

  • M Nov 5, 2017

    We had a car accident around 3 hours ago. My mom and I were on our way home from getting dinner, and a lady who we believe was under the influence swerved into our lane and hit us. This is the second major car accident I’ve been in. The first was when I was 10 (I’m 18 now) and a semi truck side swiped us on an icy highway.

    Last year my dad and I had a minor wreck in a parking lot also.

    Everytime my motor vehicle anxietystarts getting better, a wreck occurs.

  • Ken Oct 30, 2017

    I was stopped at a red light. All I a sudden the back of my car was rear ended. She never applied her brakes. That was three days ago. Today is the first day driving since the accident. Coming home from work. I felt like every car was going to hit my car. I hope I’m not developing a phobia. I feel lightheaded. And concerned.

  • janet Oct 21, 2017

    I stik l feel like it was yesterday that a motor cycle hit me head on both people were killed I’m so sorry that it happened and grateful that I was not at fault THEY both left behind children so relieved that no children were involved but I am I try to put it aside and it pops up resume of my life I still cannot believe it happened ty for listening

  • Lindsey Oct 14, 2017

    I have been driving for 30 years. In that time I have been involved in 7 accidents, 2 of which have been in the last couple of years. I live in a city where there are many bad drivers and so have a half hour to 45 minute commute to work and back everyday. I avoid both roadways where the last 2 accidents happened at all costs. I am still very nervous of both. I have now developed anxiety as a passenger when my husband drives. It’s getting to the point where I’m afraid I could cause an accident by my over reacting to what’s going on around me and causing my husband to do something he shouldn’t. I need to get this sorted out but not sure how to. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  • Tim Jun 11, 2017

    I just got into my first accident earlier today and I’ve just been so nervous and scared. My dad helped me call all the insurance of everyone involved but eventhough this accident is definitely not my fault I’m just nervous about everything. When I told my story to the person who hit me’s insurance agency, they said it was completely my fault but it wasn’t and my dad fixed it but just hearing those words that it was all my fault won’t go away.

  • Ange May 31, 2017

    Your article doesn’t mention neurofeedback, but I have found it to be more effective than CBT or medication for my PTSD. I have started using it with EMDR. (EMDR helps to process the trauma, and neurofeedback calms my brain down afterward.)

  • Cami May 18, 2017

    I was on my way to school just two weeks ago, and I was sitting in the passenger seat. We were just getting up to speed on the highway, going maybe 40, and a car turns into our lane from a side street, straight in front of our car. There’s no time to stop, I hear my mom, who’s driving scream “Oh my god!” and there’s a huge crash and smoke everywhere and my whole body feels numb. I ended up getting bad burns on my left arm from the airbag, but nobody else was hurt. I still freak out whenever I see a car turn in front of us, and I can’t help but start crying when I smell smoke.

  • Daniel Apr 26, 2017

    I just got a car crash, 1 hour and 30 min ago… im still into the panic shock, my hand shake my head tickles a little bit… i feel extremely bad for ir and i have the sensation of crying and scream a lot.. also i think that most of all this is because i crashed my girlfriend car, and i think she wont allow me to drive hey car ever again.. what else could i expect, im feeling depressed, my eyes have thins waterin senzation,,,

    • Lori Oct 12, 2017

      Hey Daniel, I crashed my boyfriend’s car a few days ago (three days before our wedding) and I was devastated and nervous. If she loves you she will be happy that you are alive and healthy and you will figure things out. I felt terribly guilty and I still feel anxiety, and much more pressure while driving now that we acquired a brand new car for me (we did get married btw), but he just reminds me to be careful every time I’m going to drive. The emotions you have right now will fade with time. Hopefully your girlfriend takes a supportive attitude towards this, and you do your best on helping her to cover the expenses involved. Passing this will be a milestone for your relationship. Relax, take care of yourself and work this out with her.

  • Ernie Mar 29, 2017

    I’m going through the same thing, I have hard time getting what really what happen. I was driving home to work with a lot of stress where I check both sides and I felt that I was free and then I hit a car by accident in the back without even noticing. I felt horrible yet I’m going through depression on driving the car again

  • Grace Mar 19, 2017

    I just witnessed and was almost hit by a car about 30 minutes ago and I’m freaking out, I mean dude I’m only 13!!! I was sitting in the front of the car and the light turned green so we headed straight and the car across from us doesn’t stop and was headed directly for us and it makes a sharp turn and hits another car. Right in front of me! The front of one of the cars is smashed and completely destroyed, my mom got out of the car and goes to help and calls for an ambulance and once all of the police officers and the ambulance got there she walked us back to our apartment and tells us to wait here because since she saw everything that happened the police need a statement from here,so that’s what we are doing now,I feel like I won’t recover after watching this happen.

  • Kyra Mar 16, 2017

    I just had an accident last Monday. I had only brought the car and had it for two days. I was in two accidents in that one day. I was merging into the left lane and the driver speeded up behind me and then the 2nd one I was at a red light and could not stop the car and crashed into a rock while hitting two other drivers. It was scary. I have to be more careful but I could not believe the car won’t stop. I pushed down on the break and it just kept going. So scary major anxiety and I can’t sleep.

  • Debra Mar 13, 2017

    I had a horrible car accident yesterday. The worst part about it is that I remember nothing leading up to it. I left a gas stations, turned right and the next thing I know, I came to as the impact occurred. I hit the city light poll, my airbags deployed all around the car and I had a significant car accident in which I totaled my Infiniti FX 35. There is a 5 or so second period I have no recollection of (500 ft.). I had every test under the sun as I was taken by ambulance to the hospital. No drinking, no drugs, no seizure but they feel I may have blacked out. Not only did a destroy the city light (as my car appears to have accelerated with no skid marks showing I tried to stop) and my car, I’m emotionally a mess. I feel so much anxiety. I have not yet rented a car that my insurance will pay for. I am in no hurry to get in another car. At some point I will have no choice, but not today. What a scary thing to not remember…. it is what’s bothering the most. And the fact that I am now retired and cannot afford to repurchase the car I owned. I’m now reading about overcoming stress and trauma from a car accident. Scary!

  • Keesha Johnson Feb 23, 2017

    I was in an accident September 2016. I was driving and we were hit from behind and the impact pushed us into the back of another vehicle and we spun in front of a bus, thank GOD the bus had good breaks because they avoided hitting us too. My car was totaled. Ever since he accident I’ve been scared to drive and have panic attacks even if I’m in the passenger seat. I’ve done some research and this post was the most helpful that I’ve read that put a “name” to my condition. I would like to seek help because the anxiety and panic attacks are ruining my life.

    • Montano Williams Sep 4, 2017

      I feel the same way you feel your post is really getting to me it seems like we are in the same shoes.

  • Kayla Feb 12, 2017

    I was in a car accident on october 2, 2011. I hAd a broken c4. To this day i am still not okay, mentally and physically. I panic when i am in the car. I hate it. I am terrified.

    • Shauna May 4, 2017

      Woah, that’s weird, sure I only just turned 13, but just today my step dad was getting gas at a nearby gas station as we were returning home from school, and as we left, we turned right, then I heard a screeching noise. I swirled my head around to look out the window, just as a huge giant truck hits my door face first, and our truck goes spinning as we get hit again. As soon as it stopped, I was immediately balled over on the floor, holding my head crying. We all got treated and nothing was wrong, but holy crap I can’t even sleep now because of my throbbing head, and I keep getting flashbacks. Scary freaking stuff!

    • Ash Sep 29, 2017

      I was in a car accdent 1 year ago and im still scared to be in a car my sis was driving and it was a sports car… im sorry that u hate being in a car 2 ………

  • Juan Delatorre Jan 7, 2017

    I was according to what I have been finding out. In a really bad accident, I had a Jeep. Working long hours was my way of life So I am not surprised by it. My mind from the last 10 years it’s gone. I am now better trying to leave the walker, wheelchair it’s gone!

  • Jordan Jan 7, 2017

    Got t-boned back in September 2016 by a girl running a red turn light. Both our cars were totaled, but we both got out with only whiplash and an uptick in anxiety. First major wreck, she and/or I could have died, took me weeks to be able to drive to university by myself. I still scream my way through intersections sometimes. Now with the snow and ice on the roads, I’m faces faced with these fears again. My therapist had me where I could drive myself to work or school no problem, and I started going to the gym at her behest, to help with my anxiety and my overall health. I’ve been drove these past few days by my grandfather, and my schedule is so out of whack it’s not helping my anxiety at all. How well do you think he’d react to me saying “yeah, I need you to pick me up at this time, drop me off at the gym, and pick me up again an hour later” not. Well. But I can’t drive in these conditions ((I know I can. I’ve done it before. I’m a grown woman and have had my license for years)) so I’m stuck, afraid I won’t be able to drag myself back when the weather is decent again. Which would raise my % body fat and make me feel worse, possibly triggering a backwards spiral into my old bulimic habits. I was doing so well, but the wreck still keeps me from going about my life at the slightest inconvenience. Help!

  • Stephanie Dell'Anno Dec 18, 2016

    I was in a car accident in may, my boyfriend and i were on a highway driving at 80km, at 1 am in the morning a driver hit us directly from behind twice at 150km, no one else was on the road and there were two other lanes. On the second hit we spun out, off the road into a light post barrier. Both of us have no broken bones, although my heart rate hit 150 so i was taken to hospital via ambulance. I still have sever back pain although my biggest issue is my flashbacks and nightmares. Everytime i drive i was to cry… my psychologist wants me on medication but i want to try every alternative before resorting to meds..

  • Angel Dec 14, 2016

    I have been in two accidents in 2 1/2 years. In the first one, I was on my way to work. I pulled up to a red light (first car at the intersection) and sat waiting for the light to turn green. An 88 year old woman was in the turn lane (cross traffic). She had a left-turn-yield on green, but did not yield. She made the turn anyway (turn towards me) when another car hit her, spun her through the intersection and into me. There was nothing I could do but watch her spin towards me. I was numb and in shock for about two days afterwards. It wasn’t until day three when the physical pain set in. However, there was no way I could get a substitute teacher to cover me because I was the substitute for a long term position. So after a couple days, I had to go back to work and that meant driving. It took about two weeks, but I finally got comfortable behind the wheel again, however the nervousness while sitting at intersections never really went away.

    I later obtain a permanent teaching position in a city 45 minutes from my house. For two years I computing to work without incident. Then on Nov 16, 2016, I pulled up to a red light again. There was a school bus in front of me and no one behind me. Suddenly without warning, someone slammed into be from behind (he was going about 30-35) when he hit me and never hit his breaks. There was no squealing tires, no black marks on the road, nothing to indicate he had tried to stop the car. The front end of my car ended up underneath the school bus in front of me. The car that hit me literally drove me under the bus. The car that hit me ended up being pinned between me and a parked car on the side of the road. The second he hit me, I was screaming. The second I realized the front of the car was under the bus, I hyperventilated. My entire body was literally in convulsions. I remember the guy coming up to my driver side window and banged on the window. Then he went the passenger side and tried to open the door. The door wouldn’t open all the way. He looked at me and said rudely, “Well, are you getting out of the car?” I couldn’t answer. My entire body was in pain, I couldn’t breath, Tunnel vision started to set in, my heart was raising, I was sweating, and sound was beginning to fade. I remember looking out the window and realizing my car was steaming and fluids shooting up from what was left the front of my car. I tried to put the car in park, but it wouldn’t shift so I just turned the car off. CHP arrived. When the fire truck arrived, the fireman crawled into the passenger seat and started talking to me. I remember telling him I didn’t want to go in the ambulance and I would go on my own. He evaluated me, took my vitals and helped me out of the car. My school principal met me at the accident scene, took pictures for me, and comforted me while I spoke with the CHP. It was then that I learned the driver who had him me ran on foot, leaving his car still attached to my back bumper. I pretty much kept my eyes closed while speaking to the officers. The next day a CHP officer called me and had me come in to the office to do a photo line up but I wasn’t able to identify the guy who hit me.

    I am driving again with a new car, but I have to force myself into the car everyday. If my job wasn’t 45 minutes away, I would never have gotten back in a car. However, my students need me. So I get in a car and drive to work/home everyday, but scream every time someone stops behind me, drives fast around me, etc. I am hyperventilate, have panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares, night sweats, I am tired and sluggish all day, and when school is over, I try to find something to do in my classroom to stall going home. I can’t handle bumper to bumper traffic, I am constantly staring into the rear view mirror in anticipation of another collision, and all my fears and anxieties from the first accident has meshed with the second and are now blended. I am reliving both everyday. It has been a month now and the pain in my back and neck have yet to stop even though the doctor said the x-rays do not show any structural damage to the spine. There are times throughout the day I cannot concentrate. For the first time in my life I know notice the hundreds of facebook posts, news sites, articles, tv commercials and movies that feature car accidents. I even had a panic attach watching the Secret Life of Pets because one of the animals crashed the animal control vehicle. I can’t watch tv/movies without cringing. Not only that, but after losing two cars in 2 1/2 years, I cannot even stand people touching my car. I want to wrap it in bubble wrap and put in on a shelf. Even at night when the neighbor closes their car door, I jump three feet off the bed.

  • Gloria Nov 30, 2016

    I was in an accident 2 weeks ago. I was at a metered light. Almost off the freeway….the driver just never stopped. She hit my car going 60mph while I was at a complete stop. I never heard the breaks. I just saw her car in the rearview mirror and knew she wasn’t going to make it. The car in front of me never moved. I had maybe 2 seconds to realize she was about to crash into me. I just held my wheel and braced for impact. I had to go to the hospital. I had bad whiplash. Now I am afraid to look in the rearview mirror. I’m worried no one will stop on time. I find myself bracing for impact every time I stop at a redlight…..i feel helpless. I am afraid it will happen again.

    • Desiree May 31, 2017

      I have a black cloud for rear end collisions. All 3 of them i couldnt control, 2 stopped at a traffic light, one at a stop sign. I feel like everyone is going to rear end me. But i need to face it daily in some familiar and some different cities, I go business to business. I start feeling anxiety as I’m getting ready for work, which then causes my neck to start hurting. I feel a bit better hearing I’m not alone and reading other stories that help me understand my fear is real.

  • Victoria Nov 30, 2016

    Ive only been driving about a year now, and last week I was on my way home from the dentist, nearly at my house, when I was T-boned. I had stopped at a stop sign, saw no one at all, and drove on. I was 95% across when I was hit on my right rear tire. I blacked out and when I came to, my Explorer had spun a few times and had flipped, taking out a different stop sign and half a tree with me. The other car was 3 teenagers who were good kids, but obviously speeding and not paying attention. They helped me out of the car (I was sideways, held in place by my seatbelt and center console, as the car was fully on it’s right side). I’m bruised up pretty well all over my left side, but other than that unscathed.

    Three days later, I had a mandatory meeting to go to, and that was a mess. I cried and screamed the whole 40m drive. My grandmother had driven me, and she not only has a lead foot, but tends to slam her brakes. Since then, my nightmares have finally stopped and Ive successfully been a passenger for short trips with other drivers, but still don’t feel like I can drive. The new car is safer, and I think a different vehicle definitely helps, but I’m still afraid. I’ve also been too afraid to let my grandma drive me anywhere, as I’m afraid she’ll make my anxiety worse. She was tough to let drive me before the accident, I’d end up taking the keys and driving us myself.

    I’m 29 and have mostly conquered social anxiety, and I know from that experience that I have to get back on the horse sometime. I’m aware there’s no right answer, but how soon should I try to drive again? My family is very impatient that I start soon, before I quit forever from fear (I’m determined not to let my fears win, though!). I want to conquer this anxiety, too, but I don’t want to push myself too far too fast and ruin my progress.

    • Ash Sep 29, 2017

      I had kinda the same thing happen 2 me and my sister….. i cant be in a car for longer then 20 min….

  • CR Nov 29, 2016

    When I was 15 I wrecked my truck, totaled it. My best friend, sister and two guys were in the vehicle. No one died, but everyone but me had an injury that will probably forever haunt them. I’ve only drove twice since, shaking the entire time, less than a mile put together, and now I’m 17. I need to get over my fear because I live in a very small town and the only way out is to drive. How do I get over this fear? This anxiety?

    • Greg Weber Jan 9, 2017

      CR,

      It sounds like therapy might be a good option for you.

  • mia Nov 20, 2016

    Was in a bad accident in May. I was in the backseat of my friend’s car, were making a slow left turn at an intersection when another car blows a red light and hits us at 80 mph from the side. Had an awful concussion from hitting my head on the roof of the car, but thankfully all are ok. Still get panic attacks whenever I hear honking or I see headlights coming at me fast.

    • tee Nov 24, 2016

      Similar thing happened to me today.
      I was driving at 70mph on the highway and a truck hit me on my driver’s side. I lost control of the car which set off in a spin for a good 10-15 seconds in the middle of a very busy 3-lane road with high-speed cars.
      Came out unscathed but I can’t stop crying. >.<

      • Stacey Jan 11, 2017

        I know how you feel , I got into an accident yesterday , I was driving my brother to his doctors appointment when my wheels hit black ice . Once the car started to spin I tried to correct it but the first snow bank I hit I blacked out . When I came too the air bags were deployed and I had a ringing in my ears . My husky was in the back , I got out slowly my brother was already out of the car . Luckily we got minor injuries , I’m terrified to drive in rain or snow . It’s my first accident and I’ve been driving 7 years

        • Stacey Jan 11, 2017

          I’m trying to get myself to understand that it was an accident and I had bad tires with no tread it’s why the car didn’t have as much control . I need help getting back into the drivers seat

  • Laura Nov 3, 2016

    I was in an accident 30th September. I was a passenger while my husband drove. We had just pulled into the fast lane to over take when we were hit from behind by a speeding driver that wasn’t paying attention. The impact took the back drivers wheel and axel off. We span before flipping over multiple times and we ended up on our roof. We managed to get out through my window with just cuts and bruises. The guy that hit us did a runner and they haven’t traced him yet. I was never a nervous driver in the ten years I’ve been driving but now I don’t want to be in a car. Will the anxiety wear off?

    • Greg Weber Nov 9, 2016

      That’s awful Laura! I’m so sorry to hear that!

      Anxiety after a bad accident is completely normal. And with most people, yes, the anxiety slowly wears off over time. You’re dealing with PTSD from your accident. The good news is that PTSD wears off for many people after a period of time has passed.

      If you find your feelings haven’t changed significantly within 6 months, I would recommend using any of the recovery suggestion on this page to help you. My favorite for PTSD are hypnotherapy, EMDR, and Tapping.

      Hope this helps. Again, I’m very sorry but glad you survived!

      Greg

  • Elisa Nov 1, 2016

    I was driving home from work. 2nd shift midnight. October 31 2016. I pray everynight for a safe ride home. 1/2 mile until my exit. Im on i78. I see the exit sign and relax a little. Then BOOM. From behind. I dont know what happened. I brake instinctively. And pull over. A small smart car 2 seater fly past me and spin flip spin 3x. I just sit there. Staring at the car in front of me. The driver of the little car ia getting out. Is this real. It is. I am ok he is ok. But am I really. Thank you Jesus for sparing me. I could have died.

    • Greg Weber Nov 2, 2016

      Elisa. Glad you’re OKAY!

  • Jonah Locke Oct 26, 2016

    I just crashed my car into a telephone pole at 28mph on a curve in the road I can’t stop reliving what happened and I never want to get in a car again I’m shaking stuttering and constant nightmares please help me I only just got my license a month prior and I’m 19 I don’t know what to do help!

  • donna Oct 23, 2016

    Friday i had an accident. My fault. My second one in 3 years. Ive been dri ing for 30 and never had one accident. I live off a busy major road and thats where i had the mishap. Now im scared to drive on that road.

    • Greg Weber Oct 23, 2016

      That’s very understandable Donna. Sorry you’re dealing with that. Maybe you could take some time off driving altogether for a few days?

  • Teresa Olis May 18, 2016

    I have know clue how it happened. Drivers on the other side were letting us know to slow down….cop up ahead. Kept driving I must of speed up a little faster but before you know it I slamed into a vechicle Thank God no one was hurt. But ever since the car accident my anxiety level went sky high. Now I am affraid to get in a car or get behind the wheel. And my stinkin thinkin is getting in the way of my life.Anything that I do or say I think I’m going to die. I don’t know if it’s part of my anxiety.

  • Imuney May 9, 2016

    I don’t know how it happened. I was driving along and suddenly a small white car is coming at me. I see the other driver look up and our eyes meet in sheer terror as she realizes that she has drifted into oncoming traffic. We both begin to swerve but it’s too late and her vehicle is moving too fast.
    I know she is going to hit me. The question becomes “Is she about to kill me?” My youngest child is the backseat so I shout the only name I know in a crisis “JESUS!” I plead for all our lives then BAM she slams into the front drivers side of my car,but her car keeps going. I am so thankful it wasn’t worse. I hope and pray I can drive again without freaking out.

  • Anonymous Mar 29, 2016

    I was recently in a car crash a few days ago on Easter 2016, and I was leaving work at 10:30pm when and a couple of coworkers and I decided to hang out after work. So we all drove our own cars to go hang and we get on the highway. And suddenly I lose control of my car and I swerve in and out of lanes, spinning and eventually hits the medium on the side of the highway. My car that I had for two years totaled but I’m grateful i walked away with only whiplash. But now two days later the pressure of how I’m going to get to school, and both my jobs is becoming unbearable. I have no ideas on how to get my life back to normal, I can’t even stop thinking about what I’m going to do. I just wonder will I ever be the same person I once was.

  • cathy Feb 27, 2016

    up top is page 1 /On there cell phone I found my mom cell number the time was 9:00 pm I call it she answer I said you need to come & get me because there are kicking me out of the hospital the nurse was yelling saying we will can u taxi & have the taxi driver you to the Hotel when my mom said we will be up there in 4 hours I said okay I’ll see you then I got off the phone walk down to the office told them my parents are coming to get me when I told the nurse I have no clothing or money for hotel taxi driver the nurse said I don’t care you need to leaves to night I was really really happy I found my mom cell number to call & someone else said if no money then u world stay up in a wheel chair all night in a hallway or down stairs in the family waiting room I was really happy I call my mom so I was waiting in the room watching tv all the nurse where going the new one working coming on it was 12:00am in the morning my parents got here my mom help me get ready to go home I was really scared to be in a car again but my mom had lots lots of pillows & blankets so I can be comfortable & safe as my mom was driving I keep wanting to yelling stop when cars would drive by the cars is would be really close to us & I got really really really scared like its going to happen again car accident we would be far away from a car & I would see red light I keep say to myself please please please stop when we got home I was really happy to be home & in my own bed it been all most 3 months & I’m scared every day to get in a car or thinking about something is going to happen again hear cars drive by driving by my house it scared me if im waiting down the street & see or hear a car I’m so scared I can’t walk for a little bit my finger is broke from the car accident & I had to have surgery after I got home kidney stones it was the big to pass it I was in a lot of pain know one at the hospital would look in to why my back hurts or my finger I keep telling the doctor’s but said it’s the bed do it to your back I said no they said yes so they had me go home so I go see me family doctor he said go back & see the doctor who help you out I said no they don’t give me when to come back to get the staples out of my chest or when to come back for a check up yes I’m still with my boyfriend from the car accident lot of people say break up with him if he really really cared about you he should of be protecting you from the car accident we both did not see the truck in front of us im scared every day all the time I feel like something bad is going to happen soon
    this is page 2

  • cathy Feb 27, 2016

    On December 30/2015 my boyfriend & I was driving to see my sister in arizona has we where driving there my boyfriend hit back of a truck we didn’t see the truck we shooting out of the truck the airbags come out it was really really really really black smoke then we stop people where for yelling saying are they a live they open the car door my boyfriend hand is in the windshield they tell him to pull it out when my boyfriend get out of the car starts walking to arizona the people had to go get him & walk him back to the car I was in the passenger seat I was really injured my injures war my stomach was in my chest I was really bruised my breast and back or black and blue my seat belt was broken in 3 different places my boyfriend called my mom my mom said let me talk with my daughter I get on the phone I tell her i can’t breathe & I’m scared she says im on my way to see you the paramedic comes over says you should of been out the window because your airbag should have not gone off paramedic tell us it’s going to be a while because there has been a three Car accident so I’m sitting in the accident car waiting for ambulance to come it takes a hour & a half to come get me I move myself out of the car I’m leaning by the car waiting for the bored under me so the paramedic can carry me to the ambulance I’m inside waiting for the other ambulances to come & get me my boyfriend in waiting with me so is the guy we hit the paramedic was trying to find my pulse but cannot find my pulse I wanted to go to sleep my boyfriend had to keep me a wake they found my pulse in my leg I kept saying I’m going to throw up then finally movie me in an ambulance to take me to the hospital on the way there one of the paramedics cap asking me questions I said im going to throw up paramedic throw a bag at me lifted me up a little bit so I could breathe we got to the hospital they kept take 6 cat scanned of my body I told them I can’t lie down because I can’t breathe they said I know I will be really really fast they taking their time doing the cat scanned my mom got there to see me in the ER she was thinking I would not make it a live so she is with me my brother came with my mom they wouldn’t let my mom & brother be with me at the sometime so my mom was with me the hospital brings in my boyfriend they wouldn’t let my boyfriend be by my side they said u need emergency surgery to get your stomach back in its place but first we need to put this in your nose to go down to your stomach & after the cat can scanned we will take it out of your nose I have the cat scanned I’m waiting for the nurse to take it out of my nose I ask the nurse they said I will go ask nurse then nurse comes back no it cant come out till after your surgery so I say I need to go to the bathroom the nurse & my mom walks with my I go in the bathroom I have a really really really really really hurt time take my pants off im swollen & bruised I feel like im going to black out my mom check on me the nurse does nothing we walk back to my bed I get in a rob & ready for surgery I tell my mom & boyfriend I love u lots as they push me in to surgery I was in surgery a long time one of my kidney Raptured in surgery they had to put a chant in me I got out of surgery doctor’s told me I was lucky to be alive because 1 doctor said & a other doctor said I’ve seen 2 people die of this time of accident know one makes a live with this car accident I was in the hospital for week in a half the second day I was in the hospital I asking for pain pill two time I never got any for two days I told them my back hurts they said it the bed I couldn’t sleep at all I was in a lot of pain my parents came to see me when was going home the doctor told my parents I would come home the next day in the morning but that night the nurse said the doctor said you are going home I didn’t have my cell phone or family cell phones or friend number the hospital had my parents number they said but it was my cellphone & I was trying to call my parents but the phone wouldn’t let me call out so one of the nurse let me call my parents onbthere

  • Deisey Feb 16, 2016

    Had an accident Friday morning.. It was my 17 yr old best friend and 5 yr old nephew and I in the car. A heavy duty ford pulled out from a gas station and didn’t see me. I swear on everything I have, that I thought I was going to die. My best friend thought the same. And now that we are all okay with only some injuries, I can only think about my cousin who passed away in a car accident two years ago. I don’t know how to feel right now. I don’t know how I should be feeling. I can’t stop thinking about how it must of ben for my cousin. I can’t stop thinking about how I saw the truck. How m friend and I both knew what was about to happen. I had no time to stop. I had no time to slow down. It wasn’t my fault, and yet I feel so bad. I feel lost.

  • Jade Feb 15, 2016

    I was in a car accident on the motor way. My boyfriend was driving and we went in the fast lane to just overtake but didn’t make it out of there again. The driver in front slammed on his breaks and we hit straight into the back of him. We started spinning we had to jump out of the car and run and then run across the motorway dodging all the cars to get to the hard shoulder . I don’t no how but me and my boyfriend didn’t have 1 scratch on us . And the whole front of the car was gone scrunched together so I don’t no how we wasn’t touched . I get flash backs all the time and it always goes back to right when we was about to crash it feels as if I’m right back there again . Any thing any one knows that could help would be appreciated

  • Victoria Feb 7, 2016

    I was in a car crash over a year ago now. Anxiety doesn’t affect me from it until I’m in a situation where a car accident could almost happen.
    I wasn’t the driver in my accident, so whenever someone else is driving and they get too reckless, or if I feel they’re going to hit another car I start to panic.
    I get flashbacks of rear ending the other car on the highway and the impact and its horrible. I’m shaking and for a good 5 minutes afterwards.

  • Krystina Feb 7, 2016

    I’ve recently had my first ever bump in my car, I’m 27, i was in a car park and reversed my car and bumped into someone’s cars now I’m having horrible flash backs and chest pains and sickness but I’m struggling to get back in my car, its seems so silly to other people but I just don’t think I can drive any were, really silly but I do drive a lot to loads, but just feel Anxiety’s pains an shaky and scared is this normal to fell like this after a bump. Really appreciate if any one could help me out of offer some pointers please

  • Kristi Feb 6, 2016

    I’m having a hard time even sitting in the front seat from horrible accident that I got into in my Honda. I’m afraid I’m going to be pinned in my car again, I go into panic attack, I even have flashbacks from time to time, including being able to actually smell the airbag and cedar tree I hit. I also get claustrophobic constantly, think Jennifer Aniston in the movie Cake, accept it was my fault. My lover died in the accident and his face haunts me. I miss him so much. We were celebrating my birthday on the way to my house when we came around the corner and there was a dog in the road. It was so big, I thought it was a raccoon but there’s no way. It could have flipped my car if I would have hit it dead on, so I swerved last minute I have nightmares about animals running out in front of the car. I will never drive again, ever.
    Working on trying to forgive myself for what happened and learn what the new normal is. And having to pay very serious consequences for my actions. Physically, mentally, legally. Its been life shattering is the only way I know how to put it.

  • Heidi Feb 2, 2016

    just last night I had my first accident..after over 20 years of driving! a deer came up out of the ditch and walked/ran into the side of my van. I was able to drive home but once I made it I fell apart emotionally. now I’m at work and watching a blizzard out my window wondering how I am going to handle driving a vehicle that’s not in great shape over 30 miles in awful road conditions!

  • Shelly Feb 1, 2016

    I’m so afraid & in pain help me happened Tuesday

    • Kristi Feb 6, 2016

      If you are in pain I would go to the hospital, hope you feel better

  • Peter Jan 29, 2016

    I had an accident with a pedestrian and nothing and no one was damaged but I was too shocked that when the guy asked me for money I just gave it to him( what an idiot I am ) but now I can’t get it out of my mind. I keep feeling the guilt and stress.

  • Hailey Morgan Jan 9, 2016

    I was driving my car to practice driving since I recently got my permit. I was on a road not for from where I live when all of a sudden a white ford came across the yellow line and hit my car dead on the side. The other persons car spun around and hit a pole and my car stopped dead on. As soon as my dad who was the passanger opened his side door to climb out of the car I climbed over the seat and got out of the car and collapsed to the ground. I was taken to the hospital but now ever since it happened I am a nervous wreck and haven’t driven since and this was over a month ago.

    • Greg Weber Jan 15, 2016

      Hailey, I definitely understand. It can take time and work to overcome a scary car accident. Best of luck to you, and I hope the suggestions in this article prove helpful.

  • Natasha Rose Dec 14, 2015

    On Saturday at 7am I was driving home from work when a Deer cane out of no where, I swerved which caused my car to drift into the outside lane of the duel carriage way then back in to the inside lane when then my wheel buckled and I spun twice hitting the central barriers. I was a very confident driver before and really like to drive but now I can’t see my self driving again and I’m really quiet and down at the moment. My cars a write off and I walked away with no more than a little whiplash so I’m extremely great full but also scared.

    • Greg Weber Jan 15, 2016

      That’s awful! 🙁

  • Michelle Nov 28, 2015

    I had a crash headin I saw the lady come at me in my lane and I’m struggling to get the image gone

    • Greg Weber Nov 30, 2015

      I’m sorry Michelle! Car accidents are an awful thing to have to go through, but we can overcome them.

    • Kristi Feb 6, 2016

      I’m going through the same thing, I have a hard time getting the image of my passenger out of my mind and recovering myself 6 mo later… You are not alone.
      Survivor’s guilt is awful. I am continuing therapy for it

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