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Depression can slow recovery from work injury

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Many injured and disabled workers also will develop depression – creating a double whammy of physical and emotional pain that can prolong recovery and lead to additional health problems.

The stress and financial burdens of being out of work combined with physical pain and the loss of identity that many out-of-work people injured people experience quite often leads to associated depression, according to medical research and our own experience with clients at the Deuterman Law Group. Unfortunately, so-called secondary depression is often under diagnosed, according to a 2005 article in trade journal Risk & Insurance.

It is important for anyone who is suffering from depression to seek treatment, especially those who have an injury or disability that prevents them from working. Studies have linked pain with depression, and there’s evidence that depression can slow recovery from an injury or illness.

“Depression may increase your response to pain, or at least increase the suffering associated with pain,” according to the Mayo Clinic. “Conversely, chronic pain is stressful and depressing in itself. Sometimes pain and depression create a vicious cycle,”

A 2005 British study revealed that 20 percent to 30 percent of people injured in car accidents or on the job had their recovery impacted by depression and other psychological factors.

In workers’ compensation cases, depression that is the result of a work injury may be compensable. In other instances, depressed individuals may qualify for Social Security Disability.

If a client is experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s important that they are evaluated by a qualified medical professional, who can prescribe a course of treatment that may include therapy, anti-depressants or a combination.

It’s also important that clients share this information with their attorney and paralegal, as this may be important to the case. We may be able to we may be able to offer additional help and referrals to a support groups, community resources and medical professionals who can help our clients deal with these problems and overcome their depression.

Only a qualified medical professional diagnose depression, but the following is a list of symptoms:

  • Loss of interest in normal daily activities
  • Feeling sad or down
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Crying spells for no apparent reason
  • Problems sleeping
  • Trouble focusing or concentrating
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Unintentional weight gain or loss
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Being easily annoyed
  • Feeling fatigued or weak
  • Feeling worthless
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicidal behavior
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

The Mayo Clinic also offers a depression self-assessment tool online.

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