Home » Ask the Therapist » How Does a Severe Facial Injury at a Young Age Affect Mental Health?

How Does a Severe Facial Injury at a Young Age Affect Mental Health?

Asked by on with 1 answer:

From the U.S.: I was attacked by a dog when I was 5, and had ~30 stitches put into my cheek and lip. We had to wait around for a couple hours for the plastic surgeon to fly in, so I know it was serious. I know that I’ve developed depression, but I want to know how much that incident contributed, and how much it’s just my personality. I’ve been told I used to sit alone on the playground in elementary school, but I really don’t remember much before the age of 10. I’m pretty sure not interacting at the critical point of social development has had lasting affects.

I am 24 now, I’ve got a degree in computer science and held a job for a couple years. But I am back living with my parents again because I couldn’t maintain the job and house and all. I had a horrible drinking problem when I was working, I would drink half a bottle of vodka some nights. I’ve quit drinking, so that was a step in the right direction, but I’m still smoking almost a pack a day – my boyfriend buys them.

I know it’s self medication – every time I get sad I just light one up and feel better for an hour or so. I eat once a day, and normally can only eat half of whatever is on the plate. My parents say I’m lazy, but I’m not. They say I just have to get over my social anxiety. And my personal favorite: Depression is weakness, and you are not weak.

I went to a psychologist when I was a teenager, for a couple sessions, he told them I was passive-aggressive. His diagnosis obviously didn’t help me. Anyway, I don’t have any money, but it’s very obvious to me that I need help. Maybe getting a sound prognosis of how that injury would typically affect children, and what might happen to other people if the mental condition was not addressed for 20 years – would help me convince them to take me somewhere for treatment.

How Does a Severe Facial Injury at a Young Age Affect Mental Health?

Answered by on -


You are 24. You don’t need to convince anyone to take you for treatment. You are able to make some phone calls and make an appointment. Do an internet search for a community mental health center that has a sliding fee scale. Yes, it is possible that the dog bite was a traumatic experience that caused you difficulty. It’s unfortunate you didn’t get treatment when you were young. But that was then. This is now. You are an adult. Take care of yourself the way you wish the adults in your life had cared for you then.

And, please, don’t let the experience with that one psychologist color your opinion of mental health professionals. “Passive aggressive” isn’t a diagnosis and the label certainly wasn’t helpful.

I always suggest that people “shop” for a therapist by making an initial appointment with several. You are looking for someone you feel you can talk to and with whom you can be honest. The most important factor in determining whether therapy will be successful is whether there is a trusting and respectful relationship between therapist and client. You owe it to yourself to find such a person.

You have skills. You can support your treatment if you are motivated to do so. It’s time to take charge of your life and get the treatment you deserve.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Does a Severe Facial Injury at a Young Age Affect Mental Health?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). How Does a Severe Facial Injury at a Young Age Affect Mental Health?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 1, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 9 May 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.