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Breaking the Cycle of Pain and Depression After an Injury

Thoughts from Jean Maxwell, Auto Accident Legal Specialist with 25 years of experience:

It's been my experience working with our clients that whenever they're involved in any kind of a motor vehicle collision and they sustain an injury and it causes long-term pain, that pain kind of manifests itself, or can manifest itself, into depression.

Your way of life changes, so the things that you were once able to do, you can't do anymore, or maybe not as well, or you're limited in the activities that you were once able to do.

So, someone who was physically able to be active in extra-curricular activities with their children or with their spouse or whomever, and was able to go out and go fishing or ride a bicycle, finds that they have become limited in those activities.

When this happens, it changes the chemicals in your brain when you're not as active, and you're not able to produce those endorphins and you become depressed.

Then the depression, in and of itself, leaves you to the point where you don't want to do certain things. You don't want to do certain things because they trigger pain, but not doing things actually has an adverse effect on your body, which causes your body to experience more pain.

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So, it becomes a cycle, a downward spiral, of pain which causes depression and depression which causes pain.

You have to somehow, someway, find a way to manage your pain so that you can ultimately manage your depression and then break out of that cycle.

For some people, I think it's just so hard because if the pain is reoccurring, if they're not able to get their pain under control or get back to the same level of activity that they were before the injury, then it is this vicious cycle and they have to be able to find a way to break that pattern.

We see this every day, but one example involves a young client whose foot was crushed in a work-place accident. Her localized pain spiraled into a complex regional pain syndrome and she was not only feeling excruciating pain in her seriously injured foot, but was also experiencing referred pain in different parts of her body.

To be in such extreme pain and to suddenly become so limited at such a young age was very depressing. The depression limited the will to try to work through the pain and optimize physical therapy, and the lack of exercise increased the depression.

Intervention through skilled psychiatric treatment was able to help alleviate the depression so this client could work on the physical aspects of recovery.

How the Lack of Exercise Increases Depression

Many studies show that people who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood and lower rates of depression.  

So, what happens when you can't exercise because of the pain? 

According to Web MD, "When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.

Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. Endorphins also act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain. They also act as sedatives. They are manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of your body and are released in response to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

The neuron receptors endorphins bind to are the same ones that bind some pain medicines. However, unlike with morphine, the activation of these receptors by the body's endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence."

So, when a person becomes inactive and cannot exercise regularly because of the pain they are experiencing, that person misses out on much of the natural pain-relieving benefits of their body's own natural healing chemical processes.  This in turn leads to an increase in depression and an increase in pain.

Effects of Oversleeping: Depression and the Tendency to Sleep Too Much

Many people experiencing pain and depression use sleep as an escape from the pain, discouragement, and worries of the day. Optimum sleep aids healing, but oversleeping only exacerbates the problems.

Oversleeping has been linked to a host of medical problems, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and increased risk of death.

During a normal 7 to 9 hour sleep, the body produces chemicals in the correct amounts to facilitate the body's repairing and restoring of body cells and functions. Too little sleep causes the brain to limit the production of needed chemicals, and too much sleep produces too much of these chemicals and results in an overabundance of the chemical and an imbalance in the brain.

Another effect of oversleeping is the atrophy of good muscle tissue from limited use which causes increased weakness and pain.

Breaking the Cycle of Pain and Depression After a Serious Injury

Seek appropriate medical treatment. Seek evaluation and counsel from a specialist. Alternative treatments such as chiropractic and massage therapy may provide relief that conventional medical treatments have not been able to provide. When you have less pain, you may be able to think more clearly and focus more on exercise and reaching out to others. If you can eliminate or cut down the amount of medications needed, a person may become less sleepy and more energetic and able to exercise.

Also seek the help of a good psychiatrist. Chemical intervention may be required to kick-start your brain into feeling better so that you can work on exercise and the physical aspects of regaining better health.

Tell yourself the truth every day. You program your own thinking by what you read, listen to, and silently believe and repeat to yourself. Affirm in your own mind every day that you are a valuable human being with much good to contribute to the world and those around you.

Fill your head with positive thoughts, positive images, or a positive quote of the day. Spend time each day developing your spiritual life and draw from the strength that relationship provides.

Want to Feel Better? Do Something, Anything, for Someone Else

Motivation coach Ed DeCosta says: "Do you want to feel good about who you are? Go donate your time, treasure, or talent to those who are less fortunate than you. Go and give to your community. Find a way, in whatever areas you find most interesting and inspirational, to give to others. It is amazing how giving to others actually gives us so much back in return."

You have so much to offer to those around you. Resolve to adjust to the new normal, make every effort to improve, and look forward to doing all the good you can to everyone you can.

How a Personal Injury Law Firm Can Help on the Road to Recovery

When a person is seriously injured as a result of a motor vehicle collision, that person may be due compensation which would pay for all of the needed medical treatments: past, present, and future. A seriously injured person may also be awarded compensation for past and future lost wages and loss of enjoyment of life. The spouse of the injured person may also sue for loss of physical and emotional intimacy resulting from the accident.

An experienced personal injury law firm relieves the stress of trying to negotiate claims with the insurance company and can take the guess work out of whether or not the compensation is fair and complete.

A seasoned personal injury lawyer often can find additional insurance coverage and knows how to fight for every available dollar. This insurance settlement can provide the money needed to seek and receive your optimum physical recovery and alleviate many worries and concerns.

The Hazards of Doing Nothing After a Collision

The worst thing a person can do is wait and do nothing. In West Virginia, a person has only two years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit, and after that date passes, nothing can be done.

When a person waits too long, critical evidence can become lost or destroyed and witnesses become more difficult to find. The police officers have witnessed hundreds of collision scenes and cannot remember the details of a particular collision anymore. Waiting causes the situation to become worse.

You may not have been able to avoid the collision that caused your injuries, but you can take action now to make a difference now and avoid all of the pitfalls of dealing on your own with the insurance adjusters who are trained to minimize or deny your valid personal injury claim.

Call Today for Free Consultation:  304.594.1800


Related Articles:

Paying Medical Bills After a Collision

Changes in Your Marriage After a Collision: Caring for the Caregiver

PTSD After a Car Accident

Know Your Legal Rights After a WV Car Accident

Sources:

Web MD: Physical Side Effects of Oversleeping

Web MD:  Exercise and Depression

DeCosta, Ed: Where Do You Find Encouragement?


Complex regional pain syndrome is an uncommon form of chronic pain that usually affects an arm or a leg. Complex regional pain syndrome typically develops after an injury, surgery, stroke or heart attack, but the pain is out of proportion to the severity of the initial injury.

The cause of complex regional pain syndrome isn't clearly understood. Treatment for complex regional pain syndrome is most effective when started early. In such cases, improvement and even remission are possible. Mayo Clinic

Read more in our free resource, Collision Care, by Jeff Robinette.

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