However, any persistent pain may have an equally significant, detrimental impact on mental health. Following a whiplash injury, reports of persistent anxiety, depression and depressive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and sleep and eating disorders have been made. The frequency of these conditions varies between studies, but the major mental outcomes include anxiety, depression, ASD and PTSD.
“Adults with spinal cord (whiplash) injuries are about 90% more likely than non-patients to experience psychological disorders like anxiety, acute stress and depression”, highlights Mark D. Peterson.
What is a Whiplash Injury?
A “Whiplash Injury“, defined by the Whiplash Reforms, includes “an injury of soft tissue in the neck, back or shoulder that is… a sprain, strain, tear rupture or lesser damage of a muscle. Tendon or ligament in the neck, back, or shoulder, or an injury of soft tissue associated with a muscle, tendon, or ligament in the neck, back, or shoulder”.
The definition does not include “an injury of soft tissue that is a part of or connected to another injury. Even if the other injury is not an injury of soft tissue in the neck, back, or shoulder.”
For example, if you have a broken arm, some soft tissue damage is bound to happen in or around that area. However, it would not be considered to be a whiplash injury. The 2021 whiplash reforms relate to personal injury claims for road traffic accidents (RTAs). Although, before delving into what exactly are the whiplash reforms and how they might affect your claim, let’s discuss the mental health sequelae following a whiplash injury:
Mental Health Sequelae Following a Whiplash Injury
Whiplash is one of the most common consequences of car accidents. Although it isn’t directly related to car crash traumas, it may lead to several mental health issues, including stress, anxiety and depression due to continuous financial problems, uneasy work ethic and an inability to enjoy recreation. Therefore, in the longer run, victims of whiplash injuries can develop acute stress disorder (ASD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can then increase the pain and aggravate the injury, reports Tonny E. Andersen in his study related to the association of PTSD and chronic pain.
“Post traumatic stress disorder leads to increased body awareness due to the inability/ fear of movement. That is why the ones having PTSD are more tentative to feel sharper pain than they otherwise would”, highlights Tonny E. Andersen.
But acute stress disorder and post traumatic stress disorder are treatable. Meaning you can look forward to living a happy life that you can enjoy. So, let’s discuss the symptoms of mental health issues following a whiplash injury and look at when you need to see a doctor:
Episodic Paroxysmal Anxiety Following a Whiplash Injury
If you have been involved in a road traffic accident which led to a whiplash injury, you’re already at risk of developing anxiety. So, let us break it down for you:
Anxiety is the notion of being worried or uneasy. Even a minor injury can lead to anxiety if you have been in a traumatic accident. So, if you have experienced a whiplash injury after a car accident, it automatically raises your chances of developing anxiety. Other causes of anxiety include:
- Inability to engage in the activities you used to enjoy
- Persistent financial costs incurred for physical rehabilitation
- Disturbed work ethic leading to career hiccups
Many people in a car accident could experience unease and worry, but this should normally subside with time. Since anxiety is our brain’s way of warning us when something is wrong, many people experience it. So, after an accident, you could feel stressed and anxious, but it shouldn’t get so bad that it interferes with your daily activities. When it starts to interfere with your day-to-day activities and has no specific triggers, it could be persistent or episodic anxiety. Stress is one of the most common triggers for episodic anxiety. Symptoms of persistent anxiety triggered by stress include:
- Physical symptoms include headaches, chest pain, irritability, nausea, strokes, panic attacks, and an erratic heartbeat.
- Mental symptoms include persistent tension, hyper-vigilance, worry, eating disorder and inability to unwind or fall asleep.
- Behavioural symptoms include difficulty managing your free time, difficulty focusing, and anxiety about attempting new things.
Major Depressive Disorder Following a Whiplash Injury
It’s common and crippling for people to experience depression following a vehicle accident. Depression may be brought on by the trauma of being engaged in a car accident that alters one’s life, by the persistent pain, or by the whiplash injuries sustained as a result.
In either case, this mental illness can potentially disturb someone’s life. It is frequently claimed that, in contrast to many other injuries, depression can send many of the victims into a violent downward spiral. Therefore, it is essential to get it diagnosed and treated quickly. The causes of depression include, but are not limited to:
- Excessive fatigue and lack of energy because of restricted mobility
- Trouble sleeping and eating because of whiplash restrains
- Irritability and disengagement due to persistent bed rest
To effectively manage their condition as well as depression and achieve a full medical recovery, victims must be aware of what this psychological disorder is, what the symptoms are, and what treatment choices are available. If you notice the following symptoms, get help immediately:
- Physical symptoms include back pain, chest pain, unexplained headaches, frustration, nausea, frequent panic attacks and increased heartbeat.
- Mental symptoms include feeling worried and tense for no reason, hopelessness, emptiness, sadness, loss of interest and trouble sleeping.
- Behavioural symptoms include feeling like a misfit/ outsider, intrusive thoughts, suicidal behaviour, indecisiveness, and attention deficit.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Following a Whiplash Injury
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health issue that frequently develops and affects survivors of auto accidents who became the victims of whiplash injury. However, PTSD is mostly confused with Acute Stress Disorder (ASD).
According to Pain Reports, 25% of whiplash victims meet the criteria for PTSD. The causes of ASD, as well as PTSD, are quite similar. The only difference is that the symptoms of ASD last for less than four weeks. If they linger on for more than four weeks, it’s probably PTSD. PTSD might be caused due to the following:
- Serious accidents that lead to death and/ or injuries
- Injuries that keep reminding you of the trauma
- Persistent health issues/ chronic illnesses
Never assume that improving mental health will happen on its own. The first step in rehabilitation and a better understanding of mental trauma is to support and nurture your illness. Even the less severe mental health issues, like ASD, can have a big impact on your life. So, get expert assistance if you have any of the following symptoms.
- Physical symptoms include muscle tension, increased blood pressure and heart rate, fatigue and nausea, joint pain, headaches, and back pain.
- Mental symptoms include feeling detached and unrelated to people, fear and persistent anger, hyperarousal, flashbacks, nightmares and sadness.
- Behavioural symptoms include estrangement, intrusive and suicidal behaviour, sleeplessness, eating disorders, being easily startled and anxiousness.
Mental and emotional injuries after a whiplash injury are prevalent. However, most people would only focus on financial and physical rehabilitation; mental rehabilitation is just as important. These issues are mostly triggered by your surroundings and can definitively impact your surroundings if left untreated. But before we get into what to do next, it’s best to cover how whiplash reforms 2021 may affect your personal injury claim and compensation.
So, let’s review the whiplash reforms 2021 and how they can impact your personal injury claim!
Whiplash Reforms 2021 and Their Affect on Your Claim?
The whiplash reforms are a collection of carefully chosen measures by the Government to redesign how “low-value personal injury claims” that emerge from road traffic accidents are administered. Hence, for the longest time, insurance companies have been lobbying for adjustments to the conventional way of processing these claims.
Therefore, the insurance companies have been convinced that the reforms’ current process would minimise the volume of low-value claims they receive. Consecutively, it is expected that the savings made by insurers will help scale down the insurance premiums for motorists. These reforms are likely to affect your personal injury claim. If you are still determining how they might affect you or your client, here are a few things you should know. The claimant, following the new reforms, must be:
- Age over 18
- Injured in a road traffic accident
- The accident occurred on or after the 31st of May 2021
- Endured whiplash injuries
- A driver or a passenger of a motor vehicle (not included are motorbikes and scooters)
- Injuries are worth less than £5000.
It must be taken into consideration that the total value of your claim is less than £10000. The claim would be affected in the following ways:
- Claims will have to be made through a new Official Injury Claim Portal
- Whiplash injuries will be evaluated on the authority of a fixed tariff
- Legal fees or costs will not be incorporated into your claim
- Instructing solicitors( or engaging any legal representation) to assist you in bringing your claim cannot occur
- Cannot make propositions to settle a claim before a medical report has been obtained
For further information, read Whiplash Reforms 2021 – A Complete Guide
Let’s Boil it Down!
The sequelae of mental illnesses following a whiplash injury can seriously damage your work ethic and your relationship with your coworkers, friends, and family, significantly negatively impacting your career, relationships, and overall health. But do not worry! Concise Medico can help you smooth down the process!
The ability to recoup pain, suffering, and other economic losses and get No-Fault insurance coverage to cover medical expenses and lost wages can also be protected by doing this. And, of course, we can help you get compensated for a personal injury that wasn’t your fault! So, get in touch with our personal injury experts today.
Also, if you think you have developed a mental illness after a whiplash incident, prioritise your mental health and book an initial assessment today!