Many people who have suffered a workplace injury face the prospect of being out for work for an extended period of time. This time could lead to a long period of other challenges including loss of income, inability to pay bills, prolonged periods of pain, anxiety, and the inability to pay bills. One of the big problems that isn’t always discussed is the onslaught of feeling depressed.
If you work with injured workers or have been injured on the job yourself, you should be aware that feeling depressed — frequently feeling many of the symptoms of depression — is common among people who have been physically hurt on the job and need to take time off to recover. About half of workers without a diagnosis of depression in the year before a work-related injury may feel depressed at some point during the year after their injury, and one in four may feel depressed at the one-year mark. Importantly, symptoms of depression are common among those who are not working one year after their injury, or who try to go back to work but are unable to continue.
About half of workers without a diagnosis of depression in the year before a work-related injury may feel depressed at some point during the year after their injury, and symptoms of depression are common among those who are not working one year after their injury, or who try to go back to work but are unable to continue.
Signs and symptoms of depression include: (according to www.nimh.nih.gov)
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.
According to recent studies, workers who experience work related injuries are more likely to suffer from depression. Researchers recently examined patients in rehabilitation who have been out of work for four months or more and found some troubling results:
- While 16 percent of the general population experience mental disorders, 64 percent of patients surveyed were experiencing a serious psychological issue or had experienced one in the last month.
- Around 56 percent of patients who did not suffer from chronic pain reported suffering from psychological diagnosis.
- When researchers included patients suffering from “pain disorders” in their mental health analysis, the post-accident rate psychological conditions increased from 56 percent to 99 percent.
Depression affects each person in different ways, so symptoms caused by depression vary from person to person. Traits, such as age, gender and cultural background all play a role in how depression affects an individual.
Research has clearly shown that returning to work after a work injury is good for both physical and mental health. People who return to work are likely to feel better mentally, and people who feel better mentally are more likely to be working.