What Is Mental Anguish?


If you’ve been injured due to another person’s negligence and are exploring your legal options, you’ve probably heard the term “mental anguish” come up more than once. But what is mental anguish, and what role does it play in your personal injury claim?

New Mexico civil law can be complex, which is why we’ve put together this guide to understanding mental anguish. If you have any further questions or are ready to explore your legal options, please consider scheduling a free consultation with our team of Albuquerque personal injury attorneys.

Approaching Mental Anguish With Compassion and Understanding

  • Mental anguish is a common and often unavoidable outcome of a serious accident.
  • Certain treatments, like talk therapy and medication, can lessen the symptoms of mental anguish.
  • The cost of treating mental anguish may be covered by compensation from a personal injury claim or lawsuit.

Defining Mental Anguish

Mental anguish is defined as “a relatively high degree of mental pain and suffering one party inflicts upon another.” This can encompass feelings of:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Distress
  • Grief
  • Psychosomatic physical symptoms

Even in the absence of physical injuries, an accident or incident can leave a victim with lasting emotional scars.

Signs and Symptoms of Mental Anguish After an Accident

Just like no two people will recover from a similar physical injury at the same rate, every person will experience mental anguish differently. An adult experiencing mental anguish after a car accident, slip and fall, nursing home abuse, or other serious accident may:

  • Sleep too much or too little
  • Eat too much or too little
  • Pull away from friends and loved ones
  • Smoke or drink excessively
  • Experience frequent headaches or stomachaches
  • Feel hopeless
  • Struggle to readjust to work or life at home
  • Feel worried or guilty
  • Have low energy

Children and teens can display different signs and symptoms of mental anguish. If your child between the ages of 6 and 11 has been involved in any type of accident or incident and is suffering emotionally, they may:

  • Act out for attention from parents and teachers
  • Be less engaged or interested in schoolwork
  • Withdraw from friends or playgroups
  • Act aggressively
  • Experience new or worsening conflict with parents or peers
  • Struggle to concentrate
  • Be resistant to leaving the house

If you’re the parent of a teenager who has been involved in an accident, be on the lookout for the following behaviors. Contact their doctor or a licensed mental health professional if they:

  • Act withdrawn
  • Become aggressive or disruptive at home or at school
  • Engage in high-risk behaviors (like drinking and smoking)
  • Have low energy
  • Sleep or eat excessively or too little

Surviving a traumatic event can leave victims with more than just aches and pains. The mental, emotional, and psychological distress that many people experience after a serious or life-altering accident can have a deep and long-lasting impact on their lives.

What was once easy may now be difficult or even impossible. Someone who was hit by a drunk driver may be too overwhelmed to drive to the grocery store. A patient misdiagnosed by their doctor may develop a distrust of the medical establishment and avoid seeking care in the future.

Mental anguish can negatively impact everything from someone’s home life to their social circle to their work obligations.

Treating Mental and Emotional Anguish After an Accident

You don’t have to continue to suffer alone. For many people, mental anguish is very treatable. Both psychiatrists (medical doctors who can prescribe prescription medications) and psychologists (mental health experts who provide therapy and counseling services) can help you navigate the period of time following a life-changing accident.

Depending on your symptoms and any diagnoses, appropriate treatment for mental anguish can include:

  • Prescription medication (including anti-anxiety medication and antidepressants)
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy

Your mental health care providers might also ask you to implement helpful strategies in your day-to-day life. For example, engaging in mild exercise, getting enough sleep, and eating a variety of nutritious foods can help your body and mind be in the best state possible for your journey toward healing.

Take things one step at a time, though. If there’s something you’re struggling with, like getting enough sleep or going for walks, tell your mental health care team. You can then work together to create a strategy that is more appropriate for your current condition.

Can You Sue for Mental Anguish?

Yes, if another person’s negligent actions caused your accident, you have the right to recover compensation for mental anguish. You have the right to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit for mental anguish even if you did not suffer any physical injuries.

Compensation for mental anguish can cover a number of related damages (both financial and not), including:

  • The cost of care (such as therapy)
  • Travel to and from appointments
  • Loss of enjoyment in life
  • And more

The point of compensation in any personal injury claim is to make the victim “whole” again. The compensation you receive as part of your settlement or award should fully address the ways in which your life has been negatively impacted by mental anguish, allowing you to be made whole again.

Not All Injuries Are Physical—We Fight for Victims of All Types of Injuries

We know that not all injuries are physical. When you’re dealing with depression, anxiety, PTSD, or any other form of mental anguish after an accident, you deserve to be fully and fairly compensated for what you’ve been through. And Barrera Law Group LLC are the ones who will help you fight for what you are entitled to.

Every case consultation at our office is 100% free of any costs or obligations. If you’re suffering physically or mentally after an accident, we want to help. Reach out today so that we can match you with a compassionate and understanding personal injury attorney at our Albuquerque office.