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Depression Takes Heavy Toll on Spinal Injury Patients

Spinal cord injury patients who are already struggling with reduced movement and mobility may also be hampered by feelings of depression.  According to a new study that was published recently in Spinal Cord journal, the chronic pain that spinal cord injury patients suffer is a major factor in the depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions that they often experience.

A spinal cord injury occurs whenever there has been a sudden jolt or blow to the spinal cord. This blow could occur as a result of slip and fall accidents, car accidents, gunshot wounds, violence and other factors.

In the study, researchers analyzed insurance claims of more than 9,000 persons who had suffered spinal cord injury, and compared these with insurance claims of more than a million people who had suffered no spinal cord injury.  The analysis found that in the general population that had not suffered a spinal cord injury, mental health conditions like depression were seen in approximately 31% of the population.  When it came to spinal cord injury patients, the rate of suffering depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions was as much as 59 percent.

According to the researchers, the toll on patients can be devastating especially because mental health conditions may not be covered by many insurance claims. This coupled with lack of access to screening and the appropriate tools to deal with these conditions in a healthy way means that persons who suffer from spinal cord injury suffer from poor mental health for years. According to the researchers, doctors treating spinal cord injury patients should consider referring patients for mental health evaluations.

Apart from the chronic pain that exposes spinal cord injury patients to feelings of depression, there may be other factors that expose patients to poor mental health.  For instance, as the days go by and it becomes more certain that the person may never be able to engage in the kind of recreational and sports activities that he was able to before, or participate in routine activities,  it becomes more likely that depression will set in.

This is not the first time that studies have been able to find a link between a spinal cord injury and an increased risk of depression and other mental health disorders and chronic pain. In fact, spinal trauma  is associated with a higher risk of several mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and substance use disorders. A lack of awareness about the long-term mental health impact of catastrophic injuries like spinal cord injuries, minimal access to screening and diagnostic facilities, and limited access to treatment and counselling services compound the problem further.

If your loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury and is experiencing feelings of profound sadness, irritability or other signs of disturbed mental health, talk to his or her health practitioner and request a referral for a mental health screening.  Psychological screenings are extremely advanced these days, and mental health conditions can be diagnosed quickly, and treatment including counselling and therapy can begin soon. Medications may be provided, if necessary.

If you or a loved one have suffered spinal injuries in a car accident, talk to a car accident lawyer at the Katz Personal Injury Lawyers and determine your options to a claim for damages. You might qualify for compensation that includes damages for medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering and other damages.


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