Home » Disorders » Depression » More Depression Care for Burn Victims

More Depression Care for Burn Victims

Recovery from a burn injury is a tremendous physical and mental challenge. A new study reveals individuals often do not receive adequate care for the psychological trauma that accompanies the injury. In the study, almost fifty percent of the individuals surveyed showed signs of clinical depression, with women being most vulnerable.

While the study findings may not be surprising, specialists are calling them a valuable tool that could spur burn centers to devote more resources to mental healing.

“In addition to looking at whether we can fix this or alter that through plastic surgery, we also need to screen people for depression,” said lead author Brett Thombs, who worked on the study at Johns Hopkins University. He now serves as an assistant professor of psychiatry at McGill University in Canada.

Thomas and colleagues surveyed 224 Johns Hopkins patients who were undergoing reconstruction surgery after being burned. On average, the patients suffered burns about seven years earlier.

The findings appear in the January/February issue of the journal General Hospital Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed publication.

Forty-six percent of those surveyed showed signs of mild, moderate or serious depression. Women and those most concerned about their body images were most likely to be depressed.

It’s normal for burn victims to have trouble adjusting to their condition, Thombs said. “I don’t think anyone would go through a burn without being horribly sad. It’s a very tough adjustment to make.”

But some remain depressed and don’t recover, failing to move “through a course of grief and be able to pick themselves up and find their way on their own,” he said. “They need help of some kind.”

There are effective ways to help burn victims who feel ostracized, said Leora Bowden, a clinical social worker who works with burn patients at the University of Michigan. With the help of treatments like cognitive therapy — aimed at changing thought patterns — patients can “improve their ability to function and their ability to feel better about themselves, both of which are equally important,” she said.

It isn’t possible to change society’s reaction to disfigured people, said John Findley, psychiatrist for the burn and trauma unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. “But we can get (patients) to look at themselves differently, look beyond the skin and see the healthy person that was there before the thermal injury.”

The citation for the article is: Thombs BD, et al. “Depression in Burn Reconstruction Patients: Symptom Prevalence and Association With Body Image Dissatisfaction and Physical Function. General Hospital Psychiatry 29(1) 2007.

Source: Health Behavior News Service

More Depression Care for Burn Victims

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). More Depression Care for Burn Victims. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/01/12/more-depression-care-for-burn-victims/540.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.