Disability and Mental Health: How to Live Well despite the Odds

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Living with a disability can be difficult. In fact, it can be the most difficult change that you ever have to go through. From filing disability claims to making modifications in your lifestyle, there are a lot of things that you have to get used to. And needless to say, these changes can take a toll on your mental health, which can lead to anxiety and depression.

Before we talk about how to take care of your mental health while living with a disability, let’s recognize the reasons why disability contributes to anxiety and depression in the first place.

Reasons why disability can lead to mental health problems

  • Lack of work opportunities. Having a disability can make it more difficult to obtain and keep a job. As a result, the disabled person may feel purposeless and a burden to the people around them, particularly those who are supporting them financially.
  • Financial struggles. With the lack of work opportunities come financial struggles. Living expenses, on top of disability management costs, are significant causes of stress and can affect a person’s mental well-being.
  • Isolation. A disability can make it difficult for a person to connect with others as they did before. They may no longer be able to hang out with friends, go to events, and meet new people without needing assistance. This isolation from society, especially friends and family, can bring about depression and anxiety.

How to take care of your mental health while living with a disability

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People with disabilities can still live life to the fullest just as non-disabled people can, albeit with a little more challenges along the way. But to do that, your mental health has to be one of your top priorities. Here’s how you can take care of it:

  • Allow yourself to mourn. You’ve lost something precious to you, whether it’s your physical abilities or your current lifestyle, so it’s only normal to mourn the loss. Allow yourself to feel the emotions that come with the loss. Grief, anger, sadness, disbelief, fear–it’s all part of the process.
  • Find support. Having a great support system is vital to your mental health, especially when adjusting to your new normal. Reach out to your friends, family, and care professionals. It also helps to find a support group for your disability as well as a therapist that can help you with your mental health.
  • Learn to accept your disability. Acceptance is a tough but necessary step when adjusting to your disability. There is no set timeline, but taking it one step at a time is a healthy way to come to terms with your new reality. After you accept your disability, you can then move forward with your life.
  • Find purpose. Whether it’s through advocating for something, volunteering for a cause that you care about, or finding a new passion that you enjoy, regaining purpose in life is the best way to keep yourself happy and mentally well-rounded.

Finally, one of the most important ways to take care of your mental health while living with a disability is to watch out for mental illness cues. If you think that you are experiencing signs of anxiety or depression, reach out to a mental health professional as soon as possible.

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