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Dealing with post-crash anxiety

If you're nervous about the thought of getting behind the wheel again after a car accident, you're not alone. It's not uncommon for people involved in serious crashes -- and even relatively minor ones -- to experience anxiety at the thought of driving again or even getting in a car as a passenger.

It's important to be patient with yourself. Don't compare yourself to others you know who've been in even more serious crashes and gotten right back behind the wheel. Everyone experiences crashes differently, and everyone needs to go through their own emotional as well as physical healing process. Let's look at some things that can help you.

If you're nervous about driving again, start by just getting back in a car as a passenger. Take Uber or Lyft for a while or ride with family and friends.

Don't wait too long, though, to start driving again. The longer you wait, the more anxiety you're going to build up about doing it. Ask a relative or friend to ride next to you in the passenger seat until you're comfortable driving alone. Make sure it's someone who will help you stay calm and can take over the driving if necessary.

Start out slow. Just drive around the neighborhood or even an empty parking lot at first. Stay away from busy roads and highways if possible until you're feeling confident again.

If you're car was seriously damaged and you're getting a new one, opt for as many safety features as possible. If you haven't driven a newer-model car, you'll be surprised at how many warning signs and alarms they have.

If you're having trouble overcoming your post-crash anxiety, consider talking with a therapist. Mental health professionals can help people deal with all kinds of trauma -- including car crashes.

If you're seeking compensation from an at-fault driver, don't forget to include expenses and damages related to the emotional trauma you're dealing with. That's nothing to be ashamed of. It's not uncommon to factor in the cost of psychological treatment, pain and suffering and other damages apart from any physical injuries. An experienced attorney will help you do that.

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