Depression and disabilities are undeniably linked. However, it’s not the disability itself that leads to depression; the additional challenges and stress you have to deal with due to your disability can cause depression. You are also more likely to develop it if you experience a decrease in your quality of life or a significant change to your normal.
The good news is that not all disabilities will cause depression. Protective factors such as a helpful and loving family, a strong support network and friends group, a steady job, and coping skills can help prevent depression.
Contributing Factors to Depression
- Stressful events such as relationship breakdowns or bereavement
- Significant injuries
- Low self-esteem, being overly critical or being a perfectionist
- Isolation due to physical distance
- An impairment like limited mobility
- An impairment like limited mobility
- Underactive thyroid
- A family history of mental illness
- A personal history of substance use
- Pregnancy or postpartum
Disability Factors Contributing to Depression
Having a disability can affect your mobility, accessibility, social relationships, health, and employment. Furthermore, a sudden disability may worsen your mental health as your purpose, life goals, and direction change instantly. These factors can play a prominent role in developing a mental illness like depression:
If your disability impedes your mobility, leaving your house can be incredibly challenging, increasing your loneliness and isolation. You may have to wait for someone to assist you with your daily activities, such as bathing or getting dressed, which can hinder what you can accomplish in a day. You may feel embarrassed needing help in or out of your home, so you stay in. This can make you feel angry, frustrated, or helpless, especially if you used to be able to do things independently previously.
Additionally, many businesses don’t meet guidelines for accessibility, so you may not be able to enter a building easily with a walker, wheelchair, or crutches if they don’t have ramps or wide enough doorways. Additionally, there may not be an accessible restroom for you, shortening how long you can stay.
2. Social Barriers
Even if you leave the house, socializing with people who don’t understand what you are going through can be hard. Depending on your location, you can also encounter ignorance, negative attitudes, and prejudice due to your disability. You may simply feel uncomfortable, which makes it hard to form friendships and build a good support network.
While not all disabilities come with additional health problems, you can suffer from more health problems. If you are constantly in and out of doctor appointments and hospitals, it’s harder to maintain a consistent social life and work routine. The more symptoms you experience from a diagnosis, the more likely you are to develop depression.
4. Difficulty Maintaining Employment
If your disability is physical, working in specific industries or getting to work can be challenging, hurting your chances of keeping the job. If you take too many sick or personal days, you can risk losing your job.
Not all disabilities are physical or obvious, either. If you struggle to communicate or concentrate, your superiors may think you are inept at your job. If you have a learning disability such as dyslexia, reading or writing components can be tricky, which can slow your productivity or prevent you from securing the job in the first place. Struggling to maintain a position can impact your finances, healthcare, self-worth, and overall stress levels.
Struggling in any one of these categories can be challenging and stressful. Dealing with more than one at once can be just enough to tip the scales in depression’s favor. You may lose self-esteem, feel bored, or be frustrated with the sudden change in your life. It’s crucial to practice self-care, stay vigilant for the warning signs of depression, and seek depression treatment if symptoms appear.
How To Help Yourself
Practice self-care such as meditation, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic adjustments, and adapted yoga or other exercises. If you have a newfound disability, starting preventative counseling or therapy will help you deal with the new challenges and learn to cope. Getting referrals for occupational therapy to learn how to navigate your normal with your disability will also be beneficial.
If you have already developed depression, speak to a mental health professional for counseling and about treatment options as soon as possible. Many therapy appointments can be conducted virtually in the comfort of your home at a convenient time. If your disability requires you to be on a lot of medication, adding an antidepressant can be complicated. There are drug-free treatments, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy. Speak to TMS specialists to see if you are a candidate for depression treatment with your current medication regime and diagnosis.