January 1, 2010, Newsletter Issue #35: Amputation and Depression

Tip of the Week

According to national studies, about 35 percent of amputees have major depressive disorder. This number is significantly greater than the frequency of depression in the general population. In the same study, each of the 65 amputees also completed the Beck Depression Inventory. They scored a higher mean than a non-depressed group who took the same test. The studies showed that amputation is not the only reason for the high frequency of depression in people who have had an amputation.

Depression may also occur because those who have had a limb amputated may have difficulty in getting jobs, s/he does not like the increased dependency, social interaction may be decreased and some may experience lower self-esteem because of the distortion of body image.

People who have had a limb amputated should speak to their doctor regarding their feelings. The depression may be temporary, and medication may help get through that initial time frame of learning to cope with the amputation. Doctors may also be able to refer a person with an amputation to different support groups, whether the support group is based on people with amputations or based on people who are depressed for other reasons.

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