Depression – Is it or Isn’t it??

A Common Problem after Unexpected Trauma

Doing Medical/Legal Consulting is a great way to use your medical training in a non-clinical field that really helps people. Here is another way you can help the attorney, the case and the injured client by identifying an undiagnosed injury in the case.

Depression is one of the most common sequelae of unexpected trauma and often missed as a diagnosis after multiple trauma. Understandably, patients and doctors are focused on the acute physical injuries after an accident. Often times, the patient’s depression following physical trauma is missed.

Depression is characterized depressed mood, sleep disturbance, appetite disturbance, loss of libido, intrusive thoughts, crying spells, difficulty concentrating & decreased attention span. In addition, depression is characterized by feelings of helplessness, feelings of hopelessness, anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure), low self-esteem, loss of interest in social activities & relationships, feeling overwhelmed, fatigue, irritability and occasionally suicidal ideation.

If it is your opinion depression is a medical damage in the case and a medical condition that needs follow up diagnosis and treatment it is your job to both discuss this issue with your attorney client and to make sure this ongoing medical problem is in your report.

The above is used with permission granted by Dr. Armin Feldman

And now for the rest of the story:

Many years ago my family and I were moving from one job to another in a different state.  I took 4 weeks off from my medical practice to move and help my wife with 5 little children.  The move went well – in the middle of a snow storm – from Maine to Massachusetts.  Getting the new house went well once the boxes were unpacked – 4 days.  Then it was getting used to our new quarters and area.  We had friends and family in our new area and that made it easier.  About the 3rd week into my time off, I started getting depressed.  I had to do some self inventory and realized that I was getting depressed ( I don’t get depressed) because I was not going to work and earning money for my family!  I left a good job and had another good job ready to go.  Once I realized this, I was able to deal with it and enjoy the rest of the time with my family.  

I then realized that if I had some mild depression just because I was not working – and I had a stable and secure future – how hard is it for injured or sick patients who get depressed and do NOT have a secure and stable future ahead of them.  They may be looking at extended time without work or even never being able to work again in their chosen field.  The outcome may not be known for most patients.  This is hard for them to deal with.

The result was that I was pro-active in addressing depression with my sick and injured patients right up front.  Even educating them so that they could seek help if they found the warning signs of depression creeping in.  In my practice, I have found that helping patients manage their depression, compassionate kindness, wise counsel and encouragement had a great reward in helping them manage their illness, injuries, rehab and the rest of their life!