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Mental Health and Injured Workers

occ news Nov 24, 2018

With World Mental Health Day and National Depression Screening Day approaching next month (October 10th and 11th), we wanted to discuss what mental health means when it comes to injured workers. As we all know, many people who have suffered the misfortune of a workplace injury face the prospect of being out for work for an extended period of time. During this time, other challenges emerge (loss of income, lack of physical activity, inability to pay bills, prolonged periods of pain, anxiety, and so on). Not surprisingly, one of the big concerns injured workers face is the increased likelihood that they could become depressed.

Depression is insidious and misunderstood. We want to shine a light on the many ways that depression manifests itself in people so that it can be detected and addressed early. We want people to recognize when someone they know may need help. Depression has a profound impact on general health, individual and family quality of life, activities of daily living, and daily functioning.  Early detection, intervention, and appropriate treatment can promote remission, prevent relapse, reduce the emotional and financial burden, and literally save lives.

Please see the list below for signs to look for if you believe you or someone you know might be dealing with depression. This list was compiled from information provided by the National Institute of Mental Health ( and The Mayo Clinic (

Signs and symptoms include:

*Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
*Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
*Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
*Irritability, restlessness
*Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
*Fatigue and decreased energy
*Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
*Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
*Overeating, or appetite loss
*Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
*Unexplained aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.
*Fixating on past failures or self-blame when things aren’t going right
*Frequent thoughts of death, dying, or suicide
*Crying spells for no apparent reason

Sometimes depression symptoms are so severe that it’s obvious something isn’t right, but just as often symptoms are more subtle. Some people feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why and either don’t know how to address it, or feel that recognizing it is a sign of weakness. Inherited traits, age, gender and cultural background all play a role in how depression shows up.

If you or your clients are dealing with depression related to a work injury, make sure you get a doctor involved. There is no reason for anyone to suffer alone.

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