Many victims of spinal cord injuries face a single question as they begin their recovery: "What now?" After such a life-changing event, emotional and physical effects may rise to the surface without warning. Victims who require long-term medical care because of paralysis and related conditions must adjust to an entirely new way of living, which can cause stress for both the injured person and his or her family members. Life after a spinal cord injury may be different, but there is hope for victims and their loved ones.
Is depression simply a part of living with paralysis?
Experts agree that sadness and grief are commonly associated with spinal cord injury, but clinical depression is its own health problem. Of course, victims may be more likely to develop depressive conditions, just like other disabled populations. The prevalence of depressive conditions among disabled Americans is said to be about two to three times higher than the rate among the general population.
What types of factors influence my likelihood of developing depression?
People who suffer from spinal cord injuries and other disabilities may experience physical pain, social effects, changes in body image, loss of their job and other serious side effects. A spinal cord injury has the potential to change many aspects of a person's life that he or she may not even consider in the immediate aftermath of the accident. In addition to suffering a permanent disability, many victims fall into depression because of other life processes that include divorce or financial instability.
Is there hope if I feel depressed?
Yes! Today's medical treatment teams understand the emotional effects associated with spinal cord injury. They are prepared to provide talk therapy and medication support for victims who find themselves struggling with depression. These and other medical expenses may be paid for by the party who was accused of negligence in the injurious accident. Incredibly, four in five high-level quadriplegics report an average or above-average quality of life -- all of which can be made possible with the right medical and emotional care.
Source: Workplace Injuries, "How do I adjust to my spinal cord injury? Is depression common after an injury?," accessed July 30, 2015