A disability, if it is the result of a sudden injury or a developing illness will present big challenges to an individual both physically and mentally.
Your ability to work as you previously did could well be difficult to maintain, sports and activities that you may have enjoyed may not be possible anymore, or even at least not possible for a temporary period. The effect of this on your self belief, self esteem, and the increase of negative thoughts can often lead to depression in a real sense and it is important to reach out to your doctor in the first case, but also to close friends and family.
The symptoms of depression are many and some obvious like the feeling of hopelessness, sadness and having little worth as a human being. Others such as becoming irritable and suffering insomnia or the opposite, sleeping more than usual are common but also loss of or increased appetite, pain, fatigue and anxiety, more problematic and worrying are feeling suicidal thoughts and actions like alcohol or drug abuse.
It’s well understood that brain injury or actually experiencing extreme stress or trauma can increase depression and other mental health problems. Many veterans who served in Afghanistan or the Gulf Wars showed signs of these problems on returning and I’m sure soldiers in previous conflicts suffered in the same way but it was not recognized as fully.
There are many reasons why people with a disability can become depressed but some of the key areas can be
- Loss of self-esteem……..it affects how you feel about yourself, your body image, your inability to control your body
- Loss of Purpose in life …..often a work career built up over years might not be possible anymore and one with less status or reward will have to replace it or in some cases it is simply not possible to replace work at all.
- Anger or resentment …… often the frustration of the two items above which can become overwhelming.
- Frustration of living with a disability ….anything from moving around to getting dressed and losing independence
- Sheer Boredom ……some people find themselves isolated from society, unable to work, lack of mobility, they may find themselves alone if relationships break down, again negative thoughts creep in and a vicious cycle of downward thoughts can begin.
Treatment and Self Help
At the first realization that you are developing depressive behaviors or thoughts the best thing to do is first go to see your doctor, he maybe able to organize specialist help but I think it’s important for those of us in the UK to say that it may not meet your expectations. There is a lot of advice and guidance on line and of course treatment may be sourced privately.
On my own journey through my amputation I went to see my doctor. It did take me a while as I wasn’t sure what to say and put it off for a few weeks hoping my mood would lift. When I did eventually go my doctor was sympathetic and referred me to a Mindfulness course being delivered by a private company delivering services for the NHS. The course was over three weekly meetings and I was part of a group of around 12 people. We looked at a range of topics around how the brain works, the information we feed the brain and how it processes that information.
Treatment combines a mixture of medication, therapeutic exercises to help you focus on managing emotions and the way you will now live your life. I have also found listening to positive messages found on sites like Ideapod and Vitamins for the mind and the like. I have found meditation useful as well though I’m not very good at it yet, I feel it helps as does listening to music or anything uplifting however small. Investigate other ways to make an income. There has never been a better time to start a business using the technology we have available to us today and it is interesting to see what other people are doing.
There are a growing number of community groups on line and there is a support network of other amputees and disabled people keeping in touch and sharing experience on line as well. Reach out to one or two you will be welcomed as a new member.
Take care my friends