When people think of an injury, they usually envision someone with a broken arm or leg, or an individual in a brace. While those types of injuries are very real, there are other ways a person can suffer after an accident. Mental health is one of the areas that are often overlooked when dealing with an injured patient. Just because there is little to no visible damage doesn’t mean the person made it through the incident unscathed.
Mental Trauma After a Minor Injury
Imagine driving to the store or work, just like you have hundreds of times before. Then imagine someone suddenly slamming into your vehicle while you are stopped at an intersection. Suddenly you are part of an accident scene with emergency medical personnel showing up. You are rushed into the hospital with a relatively minor injury. The doctor patches you up, provides the necessary prescriptions and instructions then sends you on your way.
While your physical ailments are addressed, there’s something here that was overlooked: your mental wellbeing. There are after effects that a person can experience just because they lived through something like a car accident. They may have walked away with minimal physical damage, but their mind has suffered from emotional and mental trauma.
Long Term Mental Health Effects of a Minor Injury
If left untreated, this type of mental health condition can dramatically impact a person’s life. And the problem may appear in the form of a variety of symptoms. Maybe you find yourself depressed and unmotivated with no desire to get out of bed each day. This causes you to fall behind at work, school, and/or with other commitments. Physical pain can also cause more stress.
A study conducted by the University of Queensland’s Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine found that 50% of individuals who suffered a minor injury caused by a traffic accident had no history of mental illness before the incident, yet developed a disorder afterwards. Even if the accident isn’t life threatening, it can still bring on a mental health issue.
Mental Health in the WorkPlace
Research has shown that depression and pain are connected. A 2001 study conducted in Seattle included more than 25,000 participants who were patients at 15 primary care centres across five continents. The results found that 50% of depressed patients also reported suffering from unexplained physical pain.
While depression can bring on physical symptoms, it still carries a stigma that makes many people unwilling to discuss their problems or seek professional help. This is especially true in the workplace, where biased views of depression change the way it is handled. If an employee breaks their leg, employers know that the worker will need time off and accommodations when they return to work until it heals.
With depression, there is nothing to see and so the patient’s honesty is often questioned. An employee asking for time off due to depression after suffering a minor injury may not be taken seriously, causing employers to doubt their condition because it is not physically obvious.
As more studies produce results, there is a push to better understand mental health after an injury. In time, better treatment methods will lead to improved healing while information helps dissolve the stigma in society and the workplace.
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