About half of the amputation surgeries that occur each year (about 86,000) are due to diabetes or diabetic complications. But statistics don’t mean a whole lot if you or a loved one is in the middle of this struggle. It’s devastating to lose a body part and it’s definitely life-changing when you have to adjust to this new normal. Here are some ways that other survivors are learning to manage their depression associated with this physically and emotionally painful situation.

Many diabetics who get an amputation suffer from depression.

Tips for Overcoming Depression Due to Amputation

Working Through Emotions

Many people who have had an amputation say that they felt a rollercoaster of emotions. They felt anxiety from not knowing what to expect, anger at being forced to go through this trauma, denial that this could really be happening and even relief when the pain and agony that their diseased limb caused was no longer an issue. From optimism to despair, patients have a variety of emotions to work through and this is normal. Knowing that you are not alone in your feelings can give validation and permission to actually work through these complicated emotions to heal your mind, heart, and soul along with your body.

Finding Purpose

Another way that people have worked through their depression is to find purpose and meaning for their battle. Some patients have expressed that they even learned some amazing things about themselves such as:

  • “I had no idea that I was this strong of a person!”
  • “I’ve discovered that I’m more creative than I realized. I keep finding new ways to do things.”
  • “I took a lot of things for granted until I lost my leg; now I realize what is really important to me.”

Gain Independence

An additional way that patients have learned to cope is to learn ways to be independent. Be realistic with yourself about what you are capable of doing and verbalize how your loved ones can help you. It can be embarrassing and humbling to ask for help, but understand that this is just for a season. With time, practice, and some creativity you can become more and more self-sufficient.

Choose Optimism

Next, make a conscious effort to look towards the positive. Many times you won’t feel like it, so surround yourself with positive people who will encourage you on this journey and remind you of the great things ahead. Recognize the strength and courage that you have that got you this far. How will you conquer today’s challenges? How will you focus on getting healthy and getting your strength back (stop smoking, stretching, and eating right is a great start).

Get Help

Finally, know when to ask for help from a professional mental health care specialist. You don’t have to pretend to be okay or put on a happy face for others. You need to get better, and reaching out for help is nothing to be ashamed of. If you feel hopeless or you can’t overcome your feelings of depression, contact your doctor for the resources to get you back on track. You’re important and you don’t have to fight this battle alone.

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Sources
“When Diabetic Neuropathy Leads to Amputation”. Very Well. Accessed April 17, 2018. https://www.verywell.com/when-diabetic-neuropathy-leads-to-amputation-1087601
“Coping With Your Amputation”. Nova Scotia Health Authority. Accessed April 17, 2018. http://www.cdha.nshealth.ca/amputee-rehabilitation-musculoskeletal-program/patients-families-amputee-rehabilitation/coping-your-