Spinal Cord Injury: Your Mental Health
Adjusting to a spinal cord injury is a slow and steady process, with that adjustment focusing on both the loss of your previous abilities and learning about your future ahead. What is crucial in this journey is understanding how a spinal cord injury can affect your mental health, and how small steps can help to keep your mind healthy and positive for the steps ahead.
First Responses and Feelings
If you have recently experienced a spinal cord injury, it is easy to become overwhelmed with information from an array of doctors, loved ones and caregivers. It is completely natural to have this feeling at first, especially when there is uncertainty as to how it will ultimately affect your life.
The Mind and Body
Although it is often debated, we believe that the mind and body are not separate entities. In the case of a spinal cord injury, what affects your body will also affect your mind. Naturally, these new challenges, physically, can become mental challenges too. Anytime your life changes, your mental health can also be affected. A spinal cord injury can have a huge impact on virtually every area of your life, affecting even the most mundane of activities. One study found that a SCI doubled the risk of mental health problems, “with 48.5 percent of spinal cord injury survivors experiencing depression, 37 percent facing anxiety, 8.4 percent experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and a quarter experiencing clinically significant levels of anxiety.”
Caring for your Mental Health
It is completely normal to feel depressed, or have symptoms of psychosocial issues after such a huge event in your life. In the beginning, this may involve:
- Learning what it means to live with a SCI
- Gaining an understanding of how your emotions may change throughout your SCI journey
- Recognising how your life may change, from feeling as though you’re losing independence to regaining it
Adapting to a disability takes time, but as you navigate through life you will naturally learn how to look after your mental health. However, there are depression-busting activities that can help, such as exercise. While pain and reduced mobility can make exercise a huge challenge, and it may seem like an unachievable obstacle at first, but after time your confidence will build.
After the initial adjustment period of a spinal cord injury, you may find yourself living your daily life with a new level of independence. These subtle improvements from the daunting first steps of living with a SCI can make a huge difference to your life-long adjustments and mentality.
Although exercise may feel like a way off, it is a great thing to aim for both for your physical and mental wellbeing. Self reflection and discussing your feelings is important in accepting your injury. Through this, you can begin to find both meaning and pleasure in your life. The relaxing elements of journaling and techniques such as meditation can lead to greater acceptance and further support for enhancing your mental health.
SCI Mental Health Support
We Care About Your Mental Health
Aspire Law is a specialist law firm, working for people with a spinal cord injury. We provide help and support to those affected by SCI - offering advice, legal help and even housing. We understand the impact an injury can have on your mental health and we always take great care to aid those at every stage of their journey. Get in touch, even if you don’t have a claim - give us a call on 0800 030 20 40.