Many applicants for Social Security disability benefits have both physical and mental disabilities.
Several recent studies suggest links between depression and a variety of serious physical ailments such as cancer, back pain, and Multiple Sclerosis. Many individuals with physical disabilities often experience anxiety and depression related to their condition. It is easy to imagine how it could be difficult to cope with the stress of living with a disability. A third of adults with serious medical conditions have shown signs of depression.
There are several theories as to why mental and physical disabilities are linked:
Disability and mental illness are both linked to poverty.
Those collecting Social Security Disability benefits are not able to work and SSDI is often their main source of income. The average annual SSDI benefit is $15,096 (2020) ; the federal poverty line for an individual is $12,490 (2020). Poverty is inextricably linked to mental illness. Lack of resources can lead to poor nutrition, neglected health care and high levels of stress, all of which are factors in mental illness.
Unemployment also corresponds with poor mental health.
For many, work is more than just a paycheck. Jobs give us a sense of identity. When an injury or illness takes that away, it can have devastating consequences on mental health. In one study, unemployed subjects not only showed higher rates of depression and anxiety but also took more medications and were sick more often.
Emotional and physical pain light up the same parts of the brain.
Neuralgia is specific type of pain caused by a misfiring nerve. Neuralgia is common among those with serious injuries but can also be caused by diabetes, MS, HIV, and Cancer. Traditional NSAID and opiate painkillers are not always effective at treating this type of pain. However, certain types of antidepressants have been shown effective at fighting neuralgia. The connection between physical and emotional pain also works the other way. One study has shown acetaminophen (Tylenol) can reduce the pain felt by social rejection.
Medications for physical conditions can have mental health side effects.
It is a well-known fact that intensive cancer treatments can have a devastating effect on an individual’s appetite, sleep patterns and overall well-being. Opiates are often prescribed for injuries and chronic physical pain. Almost all opiates have the potential to be addictive and have a negative impact on mental health. Even commonly prescribed heart medication such as Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor have all been proven to have side effects that effect mental health.
There are many reasons why mental and physical health are linked. It is important to do what you can to take care of both. Unfortunately, about a quarter of people will become disabled during their working years. If an injury or illness is preventing you from working, you may be eligible to collect disability benefits. If you are thinking of filing for social security or long term disability we can help. If you have filed for benefits and been denied disability we can assist in your appeal. Don’t give up. Contact the experienced long term disability attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed today for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
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