Living with someone who has a physical disability or having one yourself takes both a physical and a mental toll. Research says that people living with disabilities are five times more likely to experience mental distress than people without disabilities. Living with physical disabilities requires you to adjust to many things in your life. You might not be able to enjoy the things you do before or can’t do the things you always wanted to try.
In this article, we’ll examine how physical disabilities affect a person’s mental health. More so, we’ll understand how counseling can play a role in maintaining the mental health of people living with physical disabilities.
The Effects Of Physical Disabilities On Mental Health
Many people living with disabilities have to do their daily activities differently compared to people without disabilities. While some were able to adjust appropriately with time, some are still struggling to cope.
More people have felt isolated, disconnected, and helpless with the ongoing pandemic than ever before. They are also more at risk of getting serious illnesses like COVID-19, which added more to everyone’s stress and concerns.
This situation significantly affected health services which then impacted the lives and well-being of many people, more especially those who live with physical disabilities.
Stress And Anxiety
Many areas of life are affected when you have a physical disability. You may need assistance when doing your daily tasks. Your career is also affected because most jobs are not open to people with disabilities.
People with disabilities find it harder to secure a stable job. This can pose financial problems and lead to emotional stress, debts, and a higher risk for mental health issues.
All of these can pile up and make you feel that you’re on an endless cycle of stress and anxiety.
Depression is also rampant with people who are with physical disabilities. Feelings of loneliness, denial, and isolation can be overwhelming.
Not being able to enjoy the things that most people do can be saddening. You might fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others and feel that you’re living a senseless life.
When bombarded with intense feelings of anxiety and depression, some people choose to face them head-on. However, some might not have the same capacity to address their problems healthily. Instead of facing their feelings and struggles, they would use alcohol or drugs as a sense of escape.
Research shows that people with disabilities are found to be at a greater risk of substance disorders. Substance abuse is a form of unhealthy coping mechanism. As an unhealthy coping mechanism, it’s proven to pose problems rather than solve them.
Forming and maintaining relationships can also be a struggle with people living with physical disabilities.
There might be a reversal in roles and responsibilities in the household, which everyone must identify. There can also be problems in forming future intimate relationships or having a family.
How Can Disability Counseling Help?
Living with physical disabilities can be a long and arduous journey both physically and mentally, not just for the person but for those close to them. Luckily, some ways can help you cope healthily with your physical disabilities and adapt well to the changes it might bring to everyone’s lives.
Disability Counseling is a form of counseling dedicated to providing support to people living with disabilities and their family, friends, and caretakers. It can be an avenue to talk about your struggles and concerns and make them more manageable. More importantly, undergoing disability counseling may provide you with an additional form of support.
Here are some of the benefits of undergoing counseling:
Help In Making Adjustment
Living with disabilities calls for adjustments every day. Counseling can help you deal with the problems you have regarding certain living adjustments.
The goal of counseling is to bring back your sense of empowerment and improve your outlook in life. It reminds you that you still have agency over your life at the end of the day. You can still live an independent life and overcome all of the challenges you’re facing.
Pave The Way For Acceptance
Accepting your disability is an integral part of addressing your mental health concerns. Accepting your disability does not mean that you’re giving in to your disability and physical limitation. Instead, it’s a step forward into living a meaningful life.
Your therapist will help you confront your feelings that you might be ignoring or suppressing. They will help you navigate through your emotions and teach you how to manage them properly.
A part of this is knowing more about your disability. By knowing your disability, you can think of ways to live your life to the fullest despite your physical limitations.
Reclaiming A Sense Of Purpose And Meaning
A sense of purpose and meaning in life is affected by physical disabilities. You might not be able to enjoy the things you once love to do or do something you’ve always wanted to try. This will leave you to question your identity, value, purpose, and role in society.
These concerns will be talked about in your counseling sessions. Your therapist might suggest engaging yourself with activities that might ignite your purpose again in life. It can be in the form of volunteering, finding new hobbies, or channeling yourself through art. What’s important is that you’re able to do what you’re once were passionate about or develop new interests.
Connecting With Others
In times of troubles and hardships, we turn to people that are important to us. Counseling will provide you a place where you can connect with your loved ones or interact with people who might be undergoing the same struggles that you have.
You must realize that you’re not alone in this journey. Some people are more than willing to stretch out their hands when they need help.
Living with disabilities does not equate with living an unhappy and meaningless life. You can always live a beautiful and meaningful life. Remember that you still have the power over your life. Your disabilities might pose some limitations, but you can always go beyond them.