Injuries and Mental Health

9 Oct by HPA/LiveWell Clinical Psychology

We all know sustaining an injury can affect our physical health and functioning, but few consider the connection between injuries and mental health. With mental health problems on the rise, research is focusing more on identifying the things that contribute to this increase. Several recent studies have recognized how being injured affects mental health. At HPA/LiveWell in Albany, New York we strive to highlight the impact injury can have and treat those experiencing a psychological response to injury.

Injuries and Mental Health

Everyone has a psychological response to injury. Though depending on the individual and the type of injury sustained, this response can vary greatly. For most people, minor physical injuries rarely result in deteriorating mental health. Yet for those with underlying mental health issues, a minor injury can unmask or exacerbate symptoms. Athletes are another at-risk population when it comes to injuries and mental health decline. Because a big part of an athlete’s identity is connected to their physical abilities, there tends to be a greater emotional reaction when injury occurs.

Also, those who sustain an injury as a result of certain events, such as a car accident, assault, or fall, are often left with emotional trauma. This emotional trauma can manifest in many ways, from lack of motivation or isolation, to anxiety, depression, panic attacks, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Regardless of circumstances, everyone is susceptible to the effects of physical injury on mental health in one way or another.  Injuries can result in the loss of skills or abilities, which can prevent a person from functioning at work or school; injuries can cause a financial burden, which can contribute to stress, and thus a decline in mental health.

Maintaining Mental Health While Recovering

The process of recovery from injury is important.  Yet, the mind/body connection and interaction (which is usually beneficial) tends to get in the way.  When physical injury affects our mental health, that decline in mental health impacts our ability to heal from injury, becoming a somewhat vicious cycle. Thankfully, there are things you can do to not only help manage your mental health, but also ease the recovery process.

  • Mindfulness – practice mindfulness meditation, breathing exercises, or progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Stick to a routine – establishing a routine is important to mental health wellbeing. While your daily routine may look different following an injury, find new ways to establish consistency in the day, such as a nighttime routine.
  • Rest – downtime is essential for healing the mind, body, and spirit. Turn off your phone, put away the laptop, and just be.
  • Support group – many cities/towns have support groups for individuals going through injury recovery. It can be helpful to hear other’s experiences and be in a setting with those with whom you can relate.
  • Therapy – experiencing an injury and mental health decline can take a big toll. Seeking therapy from a mental health professional can help you manage your emotional response to being injured.

To find out more about the connection between injuries and mental health, or to learn about the mental health services provided at HPA/LiveWell in Albany, New York, contact us at 518-218-1188.