4 MIN READ | Wellness

Robert Haynes

The Effects of Physical Injury on Mental Health

Cite This
Robert Haynes, (2022, March 7). The Effects of Physical Injury on Mental Health. Psychreg on Wellness. https://www.psychreg.org/effect-physical-injury-mental-health/
Reading Time: 4 minutes

We would never think of criticising someone with a broken leg for not standing up and walking around. Yet, society often blames individuals suffering from mental health problems for their condition. Even worse, these individuals are often provided inaccurate and unhelpful advice by friends, family, and even health professionals. 

If you’ve started to experience negative emotions or uncomfortable mental states after a physical injury, then it’s crucial to understand where those feelings are stemming from. It’s vital to treat mental and physical health as interconnected parts of your overall well-being. One cannot exist without another! Are you not convinced that mental and physical health are intertwined? Are you unsure of how to stop a downward emotional spiral after an injury? 

Her’s how unintentional injuries can impact a person’s mental state:

Accidents with physical injuries can cause concerning mental health symptoms

Accidents that lead to physical injuries can directly cause concerning mental health symptoms. That’s because injury-causing accidents can be scary and even traumatic. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, the injured person might experience increased stress and anxiety if they have to face similar situations daily. For instance, someone who gets hurt in a car accident will likely feel apprehensive every time they need to drive or ride in a car. Keep reading to understand what to do after a car accident.

The injury itself can also be distressing, especially if it causes a significant amount of pain. When your body is in pain, it’s difficult to remain level-headed. Pain often causes people to become short-tempered, irritable, and withdrawn.

Coping with unintentional injuries can worsen negative emotions

As the days go by, coping with injuries can worsen negative emotions that you’re feeling. That’s because it’s normal to feel annoyed, stressed out, and bothered by not being able to perform at the physical level that you’re used to. It’s upsetting to lose a certain level of independence as you’re healing. Even worse, reduced mobility could be causing you to be less social by missing work and fun family get togethers. 

These negative emotions, especially if you feel them over several days and weeks, can lead to further physical symptoms like insomnia, depression, or a loss of appetite. As you can imagine, these increased physical symptoms can lead to more mental health concerns. All of the sudden, you can find yourself trapped in a cycle of worsening mental and physical health.

The link between chronic illnesses and posttraumatic stress symptoms

Have you found yourself in the middle of a cycle of worsening health like described above? If so, then it’s very important to address what’s happening. A failure to act will mean that your worsening physical health will continue to fuel negative emotions and a worsening mental state. Eventually, this can lead to posttraumatic stress syndrome. Post-traumatic stress symptoms include: 

  • Unwanted, repeated, and disruptive memories of your accident 
  • Experiencing intrusive flashbacks about the accident 
  • Heightened anxiety and hyper vigilance 
  • Physical reactions to reminders of the accident (triggers) 
  • Avoiding anything that reminds you of the accident 
  • Memory problems 
  • Feelings of hopelessness 
  • Increased mistrust and stress 
  • Depression 
  • Aggressiveness 
  • Feeling ‘numb’ and not enjoying things you used to 
  • Suicidal thoughts, chronic illnesses, and long-term injuries often result in PTSD because the injured person often understands that they may not ever fully recover. 

This devastating reality is life-changing and can destroy potential life goals like having a family or going after a certain career.

Recovering from an injury: your state of mind matters

Not only can a physical injury and coping with it cause negative emotions but recovering from an injury can lead to these same problems, too! Research consistently shows that your state of mind matters when it comes to recovering from an injury. If you’re feeling depressed, anxious, and afraid of getting hurt again, it’s likely to take you longer to recover. 

If you’re feeling hopeful, though, then you’re likely to experience a faster recovery. It can also be harmful to have unrealistic expectations as you recover. If you expect to recover quickly, then a lengthy recovery can cause stress. A positive mindset while looking at a realistic timeline towards recovery can help speed up your recovery time.

How to stop the downward cycle of declining health

If you’re experiencing a downward cycle of declining physical and mental health, then it’s so important to reach out for help. Consider speaking with your loved ones, reaching out to a therapist, or even speaking about your distress with your doctor. Consider making lifestyle changes that can help improve your situation in small pieces like: 

  • Staying hydrated 
  • Practicing consistent self-care 
  • Go for a walk if your injury allows it 
  • Ask for support from your loved ones 
  • Focus on eating well 

Was your accident or injury a result of someone else’s actions? If so, then it can cause increased mental stress and pressure to attempt to bear the financial losses associated with your accident. The good news is that you don’t have to endure those losses alone. A good personal injury attorney can help you determine whether you can seek out compensation by seeking out a claim in court.

The truth about unintentional injuries and your mental health

When your physical health isn’t ideal, you can expect your mental health to start to slide, too. That’s because coping with a physical injury isn’t easy. The worst part is that the longer your recovery takes, the more likely you are to struggle with increasing mental health problems. Individuals who suffer from chronic illnesses or injuries are susceptible to developing PTSD symptoms

PTSD symptoms can further isolate a person who is already struggling both mentally and physically. If you’ve found yourself in this type of situation, then it’s important to hold onto hope that you can stop the downward cycle of declining mental and physical health. We advise using some of the tips above to help aid you in your recovery journey.


Robert Haynes did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.


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