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Don't underestimate the emotional impact of an amputation

Nearly every industry comes with its share of work-related hazards, but some industries see many more serious and life-changing injuries than most. Each year, numerous workers lose limbs due to their injuries. An amputation could result from injuries such as the following:

  • Vehicle accidents
  • Falling from a height
  • Crushing injuries from heavy machinery
  • Pinned by a heavy object

The physical effects of an amputation cause their own issues, but the emotional impact of an amputation deserves attention as well. Part of learning to live with an amputation involves working through grief and depression. Don't fool yourself into believing that these emotions won't affect you. The information below provides you with indicators of depression and ways to combat it, but you might also need the help of a professional.

Know the signs of depression

If you experience any of the following symptoms, you could suffer from depression:

  • Loss of enjoyment of activities
  • Loss of appetite for food
  • Loss of appetite for sex
  • Loss of sleep
  • Too much sleep
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Loss of energy
  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • Flat emotions
  • Feeling guilt, worthless or hopeless

Depression can keep you from moving forward with your life. No one can deny the massive impact of an amputation on your life. It takes time to adjust physically, and the same goes for the emotional adjustment.

Combatting the physical, mental and emotional effects

The following might help your depression:

  • Rest
  • Exercise
  • Deep breathing
  • Eating well

You might also highlight another feature of your body. Your lost limb does not define you. In addition to seeing a mental health professional, try the following:

  • Commit to your medical care
  • Avoid big decisions
  • Stop the negative self-talk
  • Explore alternative medicines
  • Emotionally, amputation often feels life the end of the world, but it's not.
  • Seek out other amputees
  • Find a support group
  • Stop self-blame
  • Write down feelings
  • Find support in family and friends
  • Speak up for yourself
  • Share your feelings
  • Take help when needed
  • Meditate
  • Explore hypnotherapy or guided imagery
  • Laugh
  • Create a new self-image

Adjusting to your new reality takes time. Be kind to yourself and find what works for you.

Speaking of reality, what about my finances?

Another aspect of depression surrounds how you will provide for yourself and your family. The financial implications of the work-related accident that caused your amputation could last for the rest of your life. Your employer and the workers' compensation insurance company might willingly cover your initial medical expenses and lost wages, but once it becomes apparent that you will need more than temporary benefits and the bills reach into the six- or seven-figure range, that could change.

You more than likely would benefit from having an advocate on your side from the beginning. You could receive a variety of benefits that you knew nothing about. In addition, you might have a claim against a third party, depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident. An attorney can deal with the insurance company and your employer, and determine whether anyone else bears legal responsibility for your injuries on your behalf while you focus on your physical, mental and emotional recovery.

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