We all know how physically painful a broken arm or leg can be. But beyond the physical discomfort, a sometimes overlooked aspect of being in a cast is the emotional toll it can take on the patient. While dealing with the pain and discomfort of a broken leg, a person may also begin to develop mental or emotional distress. It is important to recognize that this is a very normal part of the experience of being in a cast. After all, having a cast means that many of your normal activities need to be modified and sometimes even abandoned altogether:
Driving your car
Exercise (which itself has been proven to be quite beneficial for your mental health!)
Recreation (sports, going out with friends, vacationing)
Preparing meals in the kitchen (try cutting up some vegetables with a cast on your hand!)
Showering (more on that later)
And the list goes on and on…
Adjustment Disorder/Situational Depression
Because of these dramatic changes in lifestyle and daily functioning, some cast-wearers may develop a form of depression called Adjustment Disorder (sometimes called Situational Depression). Adjustment Disorder refers to the depression that a person experiences following a specific external event in his or her life that presents new challenges. Typically, as the person comes to make peace with the new phase of life, and begins to adapt, the depressions recedes. Sometimes this process can take as long as six months. Adjustment Disorder is a very normal reaction to the fundamental life changes that come with getting a cast.
Some of the symptoms of Adjustment Disorder include:
Changes in Appetite
Ways to Cope
1. One way to help overcome the emotional challenges is to engage in whatever form of exercise that you can. Of course, this should be done in consultation with your doctor; it is important that you choose a course of exercise that does not put undue stress on your healing limb. However, exercise has been proven to positively affect the hormones in your body that influence your level of happiness. So get moving!
2. Another critical way of dealing with Situational Depression is to seek the support that family members and friends can offer. It is times like these that they can be your greatest assets. Whether it’s to help you with small things, like running to the grocery store for you, picking up the kids from school, or even larger favors like helping you get around on a daily basis, don’t hesitate to use the people around you for help!
3. Many people recovering from broken bones have found online support groups to be an extremely effective method of finding the emotional support they need. Connecting with people online who are going through similar challenges is a great way to find the strength in yourself to continue on in your own struggles. Facebook, Google Plus, and other social media platforms can be helpful in this regard, as well as other website discussion forums dedicated exclusively to the cast-wearing population. For example, www.mybrokenleg.com is a very popular site for people recovering from broken limbs.
4. While you are recovering from a broken arm or leg, be sure to indulge in yourself a bit more than usual. Pamper yourself! Get yourself a copy of that book from the library that you’ve been meaning to read. Watch that movie that everyone’s been talking about. Whatever hobby you love to spend time on, make sure that you make your enjoyment a priority. You deserve it!
5. Sometimes, these coping strategies may not be sufficient, and a person may need to seek professional help. A licensed therapist can help you sort out your feelings and help you develop your own coping mechanisms. In some situations, a psychiatrist may need to be contacted as well.
6. Last but not least, there are certain products available that can go a long way in restoring your normal daily functioning. Showering is a daily activity that can be quite challenging with a cast. And for those people who enjoy swimming, a cast would seem to be the end of the pool. But fortunately, DryCast cast protectors can give you back your life! Shower with ease, and even take a dip in the pool, knowing with confidence that your cast will stay dry. DryCast cast protectors are durable and waterproof, offering top of the line protection for your cast. Leading healthcare professionals have endorsed our product as a wonderful solution for their patients. Now you can shower, bathe, and go swimming too, even with your arm or leg in a cast. Check out the full line of products at www.drycast.com. Good luck!
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