Personal Injury and Depression


Car accidents, slip and fall incidents, dog bites, and a host of other common personal injuries can lead to more than physical pain. While feelings of anxiety and frustration may be completely normal and expected to pass with time after an accident, some people who suffer personal injuries do develop depression as a direct result of their challenges. This condition should not be simply "tolerated." It can lead to wide-spread damage to an individual and their families and, if not treated, may never pass. If the depression was caused by an accident arising from someone’s negligence, irresponsible or malicious behavior, financial compensation may be available to the victim.

Regardless of how serious an injury may be, the emotional, psychological, and psychiatric damage is difficult to predict. Accidents can trigger a wide-variety of reactions from victims: past trauma, reaction to pain medication, lost wages, and other side-effects of an accident can mean that no two accidents victims respond the same. People who struggle with chronic or continual pain after an injury may be particularly susceptible to developing depression.

According to research published in The Harvard Mental Health Letter,  people suffering from chronic pain have three times the risk of developing anxiety and mood disorders than other members of the population. And since many pain management drugs also impact the psychiatric health of a patient, the risks of developing depression while being treated for pain may also increase. In what can be described as a cruel Catch-22, people suffering from depression prior to an injury accident may see their symptoms worsen and find that the treatment of their pain as more difficult than people who did not suffer with depression prior to a motor vehicle accident or other misfortune. The cycle of more pain leading to more intense depression becomes a difficult one to break. More depression may lead to more pain and more pain may lead to deeper depression.    

One of the major contributions to depression for injury victims is the fear of mobility. This fear may arise from anxiety related to the risks of intense pain during even routine movements. Such immobility can contribute to frustration and worse. Though even a minor car accident or other seemingly minor accident can lead to feelings of hopelessness and disinterest, people who have suffered traumatic brain injury, burn injuries, paralysis, and spinal cord injuries often have a higher risk of developing the condition after an accident.

Depression, post-traumatic-stress disorder, panic attacks, and other changes in behavior may be the direct result of an injury that was caused by another individual’s negligence or irresponsible behavior. However, making a persuasive argument that psychiatric challenges are a direct result of injury can be difficult. Documenting symptoms, diagnosis and treatment is particularly important in such case. An experienced attorney may study the facts of the particular case, consult with mental health experts and determine a precise figure to treat the symptoms and underlying causes of their client’s depression. Also, if the person or organization that caused the injuries is also found to be criminally liable or criminally negligent, punitive damages may also be available. If major psychological challenges emerge after an accident, the punitive damage award may be particularly justified.

For people struggling with depression—whether in conjunction with physical injury or not—there are numerous resources and places to turn for help. For instance, Surviving Depression is one of many such resources that may prove helpful to someone unsure of where to turn to treat depression. However, a legal case that involves a relationship between personal injury and depression should be discussed with medical professionals as well as experienced attorneys to determine if financial compensation is available for the treatment of the mental health challenges that can arise after car accidents and other personal injury cases.  

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