How to Battle Depression During Injury

A woman contemplating how to battle depression after an injury.

Contributed by Christine Binney

Dealing with an injury not only affects your physical health, but your mental health as well. The physical toll and change in lifestyle will likely have a big impact on your emotional well-being. It’s important to know how to battle depression during injury so that you can focus on your process of recovery.

It is not hard to understand how someone could fall into a depression after incurring an injury. An injury can prevent you from participating in activities that you enjoy. It may force you to rely on others for help. Certain aspects of your mobility that you used to take for granted may suddenly become painstakingly difficult. Dealing with all of these situations at the same time can be hard, so learning how to battle depression is essential.


Maintain a winning attitude
Injuries can often affect our sense of self. If you’re an athlete, your identity may be wrapped up in your sport. You may derive your sense of worth and self-esteem from being an athlete, so when you are no longer able to compete you experience a lack of self-worth. Sports often provide a crucial outlet to relieve stress as well as an important arena for social interaction with people who share the same interests. No longer having those outlets and relationships could lead to depression. The good news is you can use the tools that sports have taught you to keep depression at bay. Motivation, determination and a winning attitude can all help you through a successful recovery.

A great tactic in battling depression is to use the experience of sitting out during injury to remind you why you love the sport so much. Use it as a motivation to perform your physical therapy and work even harder, knowing that in the end the experience just might make you a better athlete than you were before the injury.

It’s also a good idea to find another activity that you can enjoy. Oftentimes, trying out an alternative sport that is less physically taxing is a great alternative. You’ll meet new people, enjoy a new opportunity to challenge, and release the feel-good endorphins that exercise triggers.

Don’t let a fear of reinjury cause undue anxiety. Instead, work with a medical professional who can monitor your healing process and provide recommendations to keep you safe throughout your recovery.


Accept help when you need it
Rely on friends, family, teammates or medical professionals to support you both emotionally and physically. Talk to others who have been through similar injuries and learn how they coped. Be comfortably accepting help when you need it. What once seemed like the simplest tasks may be extremely challenging after an injury. If you are used to being independent and self-reliant, fight the nagging feeling that you are being a burden to others. If the positions were switched, you would likely happily do whatever you could in order to help a loved one deal with an injury, so why shouldn’t you expect the same for yourself?


Change your outlook
Perhaps one of the best ways how to battle depression after an injury is by changing your outlook.   Rather than feeling pity for yourself, look at your situation logically and realistically. Constantly remind yourself that you are not the only one in the world with limitations and people overcome obstacles all the time. Dedicate yourself to working hard to get better or learn to adapt to a different lifestyle if necessary. Look for ways to make meaningful contributions to your friends, family or community in order to boost your self-confidence and self-worth.

You didn’t have a choice when you became injured, but you do have a choice on how you will let it affect you. As the old saying goes, “When Life Hands you lemons, make lemonade.”  The Lotsa Helping Hands community was born out of this mantra, turning a despairing situation into the inspiration for an amazing community of caregivers. Use this same outlook when dealing with your injury and you’ll be on the path to physical and emotional recovery quicker than you could have imagined.