People that have suffered a concussion or TBI, and those that care for people with complex needs are at greater risk to suffer from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. How do you recognize someone struggling with mental health issues? Mental illness is identified as a change in thinking, mood, behaviour and is associated with distress and impaired function. It is difficult because often those in the greatest need can present as being confident, strong and in control of their life. When people are talking about their feelings, they are trying to find help, but when they go silent, you need to be aware. Mental illness or mental impairment is never to be taken lightly and professional care is always recommended. Some things you can do to help are: (A list of professional resources is provided at the end of this article.)
- Listen when they speak
- Offer advice when asked
- Just be there for them and remind them that they are not alone
- Help them engage in social activities but keep those moments small and quiet
- Help with daily tasks like cleaning, cooking or laundry
- Take them away from their environment even if just for a few hours
- Help them smile or share a laugh
- Help them get professional help.
- Contact a doctor for them and accompany them to the appointment
Websites, blogs, and social media sites offer support for people suffering with specific illnesses and can help alleviate the feeling of being alone in this situation – They can be that someone who understands. WAGS of SCI is an excellent resource and Wishart Brain and Spine Law proudly supports their cause.
Things to Watch for
Changes in emotional behaviour which can include
- Trouble expressing their feelings
- Changes to their typical personality
- Remembering names of people and events
- Low self esteem caused by impaired functioning
Signs of Depression getting worse
- Loss of interest in activities
- Withdrawing from society
- Less energy
- Feeling hopeless
Do you know when it is just temporary, situational depression or something more serious? When in doubt always seek a professional opinion. If the person you love is not willing to speak with someone, get some help for yourself and ask how you can support that person.
Anxiety is a normal emotion but sometimes it can be a symptom of depression. Feelings of anxiety can be difficult to communicate with others. It can manifest itself in many ways, anger, sadness, withdrawing, nervousness or excessive worry. Situational anxiety will pass when that event or situation ends. Persistent or general anxiety can be problematic, interrupt daily activity, and then evolve into depression.
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety
- Throat or chest feels tight
- Breathlessness or racing heartbeat
- Light-headedness or dizziness
- Sweating or cold, clammy hands
- Feeling jumpy
- Muscle tension, aches, or soreness
- Extreme fatigue
- Inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, early waking, or restlessness
Emotional Symptoms of Anxiety
- Restlessness, irritability
- Constant worrying
- Feeling doomed
- Inability to concentrate
People who have suffered a serious injury often experience these symptoms as they recover from a concussion or spinal cord injury. If you are caring for someone in this situation always ask their medical team how you can best support their mental health during their recovery.
Methods for Managing Depression and Anxiety
- Anxiety or anti-depressant medication – prescribed and monitored by doctors
- Exercise – as directed by a physician
- Fresh Air
- Healthy Diet
- Breathing exercises
Public Professional Resources for Depression, Anxiety and other Mental Health Concerns
See the section, Your Health Authority, for offices in your area in BC
For people age 15+ with mild to moderate depression and anxiety
Offers 24-hour, 7 day a week crisis support for suicidal thoughts
Multiple links to services for all ages in BC and in Canada
Women and Girlfriends of Spinal Cord Injury – support and information for women caring for partners with spinal cord injury.
Wishart Brain and Spine Lawyers would like to encourage you to seek professional guidance as soon as possible if you are caring for or concerned about someone with a mental illness or brain injury causing mental distress. This article is for information purposes only. Always consult with a doctor or mental health practitioner about your situation. If a mental health condition has been caused by an accident that was not your fault, and symptoms are lasting longer than expected, or not improving, it is important to seek legal advice before you settle with any insurance company. Your first consultation is always free. Our team is here for you.