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Mental Health After SCI

Depression

Concerns regarding “depression” are commonly reported by SCI survivors, staff, or their families. Elliott and Umlauf (1995) report that depression is the most frequently researched psychological issue in individuals who have sustained a SCI. Given the losses and innumerable adjustments necessitated following a SCI, an individual will likely encounter repeated strains upon available coping resources. The term “depressed mood” refers to a state of dysphoria that occurs routinely and is considered a normal process (Elliott & Frank 1996). In contrast, a diagnosable “depressive syndrome” refers to a constellation of observable affective, cognitive and neuro-vegetative symptoms of sufficient frequency and severity to negatively impact the functioning of an individual. Identifying clinical depression is often more difficult than might be anticipated. Rehabilitation staff has been shown to overestimate the incidence of depression in inpatient populations (Cushman & Dijkers 1990) while underestimating individuals’ reported coping ability and mental health (Siösteen et al. 2005).

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