If you develop a disability due to an injury or a chronic illness, you can quickly go from being a productive individual to someone who struggles just to make ends meet from day to day.
Aside from the physical toll on your body, the mental toll can be just as bad, if not worse. Feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness or sadness can quickly give way to full blown depression. Aside from your particular disability, depression can also lead to fatigue, loss of appetite, digestive problems, irritability and indiscriminate aches and pains.
Depression can often worsen when sleep problems arise. Many people battle excessive sleep or a lack of sleep which can intensify depression, and in some cases, leading to thoughts of suicide.
Although many factors increase the risk of depression, living with a disability or a chronic illness is considered one of the primary indicators that depression may occur. And certain kinds of disabilities or illnesses also raise the risk profile as well. People with traumatic brain injuries and Parkinson’s disease are among two of the more well known causes.
Any disability may produce symptoms that are an indicator of depression. If you have a disability and suffer from the following, you should consider getting treatment:
Loss of life’s purpose – If you have been a breadwinner for most of your life, the loss of your career can be an especially staggering blow to your self esteem. Guilt at no longer being able to provide for your family and feelings of worthlessness are by-products that come from losing your direction in life.
Lower self-esteem – When you become disabled, you aren’t able to do as much as you once did, and that produces a lack of confidence in social settings while you struggle to control your life and your body. The inability to perform at the same level often leads to depression.
The everyday struggle to live with a disability – If you’ve been healthy all your life, then the onset of a disability or chronic illness can be extremely jarring. Normal activities you once took for granted now require extra effort, assuming you can perform then at all. When you cannot perform the same high level of work as in the past, you can quickly become sad, angry, frustrated or harbor resentment. With these changes also come an overall change in your lifestyle. Little things, like walking your dog, or going out dancing, or doing yard work that once gave you joy and purpose may be taken away from you, fueling anger and leading to depression.
Boredom – If your disability impacts your ability to be social, and you have far less interactions than in the past, you will stare at a huge obstacle of boredom. Boredom leads to feelings of loneliness and frustration, and those in turn, can lead to depression.
When you or a loved one notices the onset of these symptoms, it’s critical to seek out treatment as soon as possible. Depression, if left untreated, can grow and become more ugly. A trained mental health professional can help you come to grips with your depression and ultimately help you how to live better within the confines of your disability.
Depression can be treated in many ways. Medications can help to rebalance brain chemistry and physically pull you out of the doldrums. This is combined with therapy that will identify the root causes of the depression and offer solutions based on your new found awareness. You can learn to accept your “new normal” and release yourself from old expectations. Mental health professionals will also help you identify lifestyle changes, so you can still find ways to enjoy certain activities and outings while staying within the new framework of your life.