Why Are People With Disabilities at Risk for Depression?

It’s well-known that people with chronic illnesses or disabilities face greater challenges than most individuals in
their day-to-day lives.

From everyday tasks that most people take for granted to more significant challenges, people with disabilities
often work harder than others just to get by. They may have trouble completing simple tasks, caring for
themselves, or connecting with their peers.

As a result, they may often feel isolated, helpless, and hopeless – feelings that, coupled with these unique
challenges, impact their quality of life and put them at a higher risk for developing depression.

People with disabilities are at an increased risk for depression due to many factors.
The following are just some unique challenges that individuals with disabilities commonly face. Those who
struggle with one or several of these challenges may be at an increased risk for depression.

Mobility Issues
Individuals with disabilities often face many challenges that impact their physical, social, and emotional wellbeing. One of the most significant challenges is mobility issues.
When a person cannot move around freely, it can lead to a sense of loneliness, embarrassment, and
powerlessness as they may be unable to get around town and participate in activities they enjoy.
Additionally, mobility issues can interfere with one’s ability to take care of personal hygiene or complete other
basic tasks. In some cases, meeting the needs that most people can meet on their own depends upon the
assistance of another, which can further trigger feelings of frustration and low self-esteem.

Social and Societal Barriers and Isolation
Social barriers are everyday situations that limit a person’s ability to participate in society fully. In this case,
social barriers might include a lack of awareness or understanding about disability and negative attitudes
towards disability.

Social barriers can lead to isolation, creating a huge challenge for people with disabilities to form and maintain
relationships. In addition, social and physical barriers can make it hard for people with disabilities to access
essential services like healthcare and employment.

From social prejudices to physical or other limitations, these can worsen feelings of hopelessness,
worthlessness, and low self-esteem, especially when compounded with the financial stress of unemployment.

Health and Healthcare Challenges
For people with disabilities, health problems and healthcare barriers can significantly contribute to depression.
Whether insufficient reimbursement rates, access to transportation, or simply a lack of providers trained to
meet their needs, getting the care they need – let alone covering the costs – can be a real struggle.
In addition, health problems themselves can be a major source of stress and anxiety for people with
disabilities. In fact, people with many medical problems are more likely to become depressed, even if they
don’t have a disability.

The pain, fatigue, and other symptoms associated with chronic illness, for instance, can make it difficult to
enjoy life and can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair. As a result, people with disabilities often have
poorer health outcomes and are more likely to suffer from depression.

There are ways to get help if you are struggling with depression.
Just because someone has a disability doesn’t mean they’re automatically going to become depressed. Many
people with disabilities don’t suffer from depression at all. And for those who do, their depression likely has
very little to do with their disability but rather the factors that stem from it.
Whatever the cause, it is important to remember that depression is a treatable condition. Many effective
treatments are available, and anyone can recover from depression with the right support. If you or someone
you know is struggling with depression, reach out to our team for support.

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