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Depression After a Work Injury

You are not alone if you feel depressed after a work accident. With a little assistance, you can start feeling better today.


To many, work is a second home, a place where you spend eight hours a day, or an estimated thirteen years and two months of your life. When an injury happens at the workplace, your life can be turned upside down. Your injury may disrupt your daily work routine and affect your day to day life.

After sustaining a work injury, you may be flooded with feelings of apprehension, fear, sadness, and frustration. Dealing with bills, stress, physical rehabilitation, and a new way of living your life may incite feelings of depression. Depression can be a complex feeling, but you’re not alone. According to the Institute for Work & Health, depression is common among people who have sustained a physical injury at work and need time off to recover.

Understanding Post-Injury Depression

Post-injury depression, also called consequential depression, can be a natural response after being injured on the job. The CDC notes depression can be triggered by traumatic or stressful events, going through a major life change, or having a medical problem, all of which can be attributed to sustaining a serious work injury.

Signals indicating depression can differ for each person. Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with depression, courtesy of the CDC:

  • Feeling sad or anxious often or all the time
  • Not wanting to do activities that used to be fun
  • Feeling irritable‚ easily frustrated‚ or restless
  • Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Waking up too early or sleeping too much
  • Eating more or less than usual or having no appetite
  • Experiencing aches, pains, headaches, or stomach problems that do not improve with treatment
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
  • Feeling tired‚ even after sleeping well
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
  • Thinking about suicide or hurting yourself

What Can I Do to Treat Post-Injury Depression?

Many forms of treatment are available to treat post-injury depression. Seeking treatment can reduce symptoms and in certain cases, can help shorten the duration of depression. Before beginning any form of treatment, it is recommended to consult with a qualified doctor or mental health professional.

Psychotherapy, also called counseling or therapy, is the process of working with a licensed therapist to develop positive thinking and coping skills to treat depression. Therapy can help identify issues and feelings you are dealing with now, teaching skills to help deal with issues and change destructive behaviors.

Medication, called antidepressants, is another form of treatment for depression that can help improve a person’s mood and coping skills. Several kinds of antidepressants are available, so it may take a few tries for you and your doctor to find the best type and dosage for you.

A combination of both forms of treatments can also prove helpful, providing people with extra support and guidance to help navigate him or her through this difficult time.

Who Will Pay for My Post-Injury Depression Treatment?

Payment for therapy or medication after a work injury can be complex. If you develop depression as a result of a work injury, it is possible to have your employer’s workers compensation insurance cover the cost of treatment. This being said, these claims are complex and often require the help of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to prove depression resulted due to the injury and was not a pre-existing condition.

Payment should not keep you from pursuing treatment for depression if you feel you need it. There are many ways to get professional help after suffering from a work accident that can be low-cost or free.

Moving Forward

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every six adults will have depression at a point in his or her lifetime, which affects sixteen million American adults every year.

People who sustain a serious work injury after an accident are at a higher risk of depression. In a study from the Institute for Work & Health, “about half of workers without a diagnosis of depression in the year before a work-related injury may feel depressed at some point during the year after their injury, and one in four may feel depressed at the one-year mark.”

Know you are not alone and there is help out there for you. Contact your workers’ compensation attorney, employer, or social security disability representative to begin the journey to feeling better.

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