Depression sucks no matter what, but it’s especially hard to handle when you realize that you can’t do the things you used to do. I encourage you to take this time to be frustrated, but also to embrace and cultivate gratitude for all of the things that you are able to do. SCI is a scary thing, and contrary to what some might say, it’s not always a life-ruining event.
If you have been diagnosed with depression, it is possible to get better. There are many effective treatments for depression, including medication and psychological counseling, to help you overcome the condition. In the process of overcoming your depression, you may also want to consider lifestyle changes that can help improve your overall health and well-being. For example, exercise can be very beneficial in combating depression.
It is normal to feel depressed after an SCI.
If your spinal cord injury took place recently, it may take some time for you to process the emotions that come with being paralyzed. A recent study found that people with a new SCI (within the last six months) were more likely to be depressed than those who had sustained a spinal cord injury years ago. The sooner you work through your feelings and accept your condition, the sooner you will be able to move on with life.
It is important to try and stay social.
Being unable to walk or use your hands can make it difficult to get out of the house and be social, but it is important to stay connected with friends and family. If you are having difficulty getting out of the house, try inviting friends over for dinner or meeting them for coffee at a local cafe. It may also help to join an online support group where you can talk with other people who have experienced similar situations as you. It is always good to remember that there are people like you out there who know what it is like to live with paralysis and are willing to talk about it.
It is okay to have negative feelings.
Having a positive attitude all the time can be extremely difficult when living with a SCI. It is a devastating event, and you need to let yourself feel and express those negative feelings and emotions so you can process them and move on. People who stay stuck in negative emotions are the ones who don’t allow themselves to feel those negative thoughts, feelings, or emotions. You can’t keep everything bottled up inside. At some point, it will find a way out and that could be worse than just dealing with it at the moment.
Adjusting to Paralysis
The first year after spinal cord injury is often a whirlwind of appointments and doctor’s visits, surgeries and physical therapy. By the time you emerge from this storm of activity, you may be mentally exhausted.
The first year can be one of the most difficult for new SCI patients, especially those with a high-level SCI. That’s because it’s a time many new SCI patients have to adjust to living with paralysis.
These adjustments may lead to depression, although many people aren’t aware they are depressed. They think they are simply having an emotional reaction to their injury and that they will get over it in time. While this might be true, it’s also possible that being depressed is interfering with your ability to move on and live a full life. Knowing the signs of depression can help you determine if you need treatment or counseling.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that between 30 and 60 percent of SCI patients experience depression after their injury. There are several reasons why:
Pain and discomfort are common after SCI, especially during rehabilitation. Although medication can help control pain and improve your quality of life, you may still feel down about having to deal with pain every day for the rest of your life.
If you have recently been paralyzed, it’s normal to feel down or depressed. You may question yourself, what will my life be like now? What about my family, my job and my friends? It is easy to dwell on the negative things that have happened to you.
However, it’s important to remember that depression after a spinal cord injury is temporary. The key is to get help so that you do not dwell on the negatives.
Here are some tips to help you deal with depression:
Find a support group where you can share your feelings with others who are experiencing the same thing as you.
Exercise regularly – even if it’s just stretching your arms or legs while lying in bed. Staying active will improve your outlook and keep your body healthy.
Get a good support system in place. Talk to a psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in SCI-related mental health issues. There are also numerous medication options available if needed.
Take time for yourself. Even if it means spending one hour alone before going to sleep each night, make sure you take some time for yourself every day.
Depression is a difficult but common side-effect of life after an SCI. Fortunately, the many resources and support systems available to spinal cord injury survivors have made it easier than ever before to combat depression and reclaim control of your life.
Coping with the depression that often follows a spinal cord injury isn’t easy. Rehabilitation specialists can help, but many people find that peer support groups are the most helpful.
If you or a loved one has recently suffered a spinal cord injury, you may be feeling sad, helpless and angry about what’s happened. Your life has been turned upside down and it can feel like things will never be the same again.
However, don’t let these feelings bring you down even more. Most people who have experienced a spinal cord injury (SCI) go through the same emotions at first. But with time, they are able to make adjustments and move on.