The World Health Organization reports over a billion people have some form of disability. This can be due to aging, as well as an increase in chronic health conditions. Disabilities can take many forms but are overall described as having difficulty completing tasks that others can do without difficulty.
Physical, sensory, cognitive, behavioral and emotional disabilities exist among people around the world. Any of these types of disabilities means a person has lost, or never had, the ability to function in certain areas. They are not able to complete certain tasks the same way someone without a disability can complete tasks.
This difference can often make a person with a disability feel isolated, and unfortunately in some cases, less capable. Over time, their mental health may begin to suffer. Depression, specifically, is a common mental health issue among the disabled.
Below are some helpful tips that can improve your mental health, while also helping you cope with your depression and disability simultaneously. The first tip is to recognize the symptoms of depression, so you aren’t left guessing why you feel sad or lack energy.
The Connection Between Depression and Disability
Depression happens in over 40 million people in America right now. That’s close to 20% of the population and doesn’t include the millions of teens with depression. It also doesn’t include the number of unreported cases of depression.
You are not alone in your battle. Depression can take on many forms and can vary from person to person. There are some common symptoms often recognized. If you have any of the symptoms listed below, you may also be dealing with depression and disability.
Recognizing Depression Symptoms
Below are some of the most common (and sometimes hidden) symptoms of depression. However, it is important to note that some of these signs can also indicate other medical issues.
- You get plenty of sleep but still feel tired.
- You have unexplained aches and pains, headaches or digestive issues.
- You notice your memory and concentration is not as good as it once was.
- You tend to focus on the negative and some people may even think of you as being pessimistic.
- You feel hopeless at times, or have even thought of what it would be like to disappear or die.
- You have lost interest in activities you once enjoyed.
- Your appetite has drastically changed: overeating, undereating, binge eating.
- You’re constantly focusing on what it would be like to not be disabled.
- You feel angry about your disability and can’t seem to get past it.
- You’re aggressive or angry towards non-disabled people because they don’t or can’t relate.
- You deny you have a disability even though you can’t complete certain tasks because of one.
If you have felt any of these things, it is okay. What’s not okay is to get stuck in these thoughts. If you recognize yourself in any of these descriptions, it’s time to reach out for help. Fortunately, there is a lot of help available. You can even find a counselor who also has a disability like yours that can truly understand your perspective.
Whether you have recently become disabled, or if you have been disabled all your life, there is nothing wrong with seeking help for the emotions you feel. Together, you and your counselor can develop positive ways to help you cope with depression and your disability. One way is to find and use equipment to help you perform at your best.
Using Assistive Technology and Medical Equipment
Today, there are devices for almost every need. And if doesn’t already exist, you can have it created and customized for your specific needs. At home, modify your space so that it makes living easier. The less you have to struggle, the happier you will feel.
Add ramps if you use a wheelchair or walker. Add stair lifts if you want to move up and down the stairs safely and quickly. Make bathing easier with transfer benches, walk-in showers, and lifts. Have your car modified so that you can continue to drive, if you are able to. If not, modify your vehicle so that riding is more comfortable.
In your office, at home or at a business, make sure you are given everything you need to be successful in your job. You will need to request the items you need because unless your boss has the same disability, he or she may not know exactly how to help.
Realizing that using supportive equipment and devices is a good thing, you can focus on showing off your talents rather than trying to prove you don’t need help. Everyone needs help, some physically, some emotionally, and some mentally. Aside from equipment, you can also do things to improve your self-esteem.
Combating Depression and Disability by Boosting Confidence
Having a disability makes it easier to let yourself feel inadequate. You may compare yourself to others or put yourself down when you can’t complete a task. Believe it or not, even non-disabled people struggle with low self-esteem. Boosting your confidence, however, can help you discover the many ways you can excel and feel good about yourself and your abilities.
One idea to boost your confidence is to help others who have a disability, showing them how to succeed, and in turn, helping you succeed. You can also give back in some way to your community. Volunteer or offer your talents to those in need.
Throw a fundraiser and raise a pile of money to provide special services for the disabled in your community. For instance, if a local worker has a problem with sight and a larger computer screen can help him do a better job, raise money to give him that device.
Building a Good, Solid Support System
No one can manage life and the ups and downs life offers alone – we all need help at times. Be willing to accept help from others. Put the right people in your corner to help you live well and happily.
Your support system can include your mobility equipment provider, counselor, family, friends, co-workers, peers and anyone else who is a positive influence, provides encouragement, and is accessible when you need help.
With the right support, you can successfully reach your goals in both your private and professional life. You can even start today.