The loss of a limb can have a considerable psychological impact. Many people who’ve had an amputation report feeling emotions such as grief and bereavement, similar to experiencing the death of a loved one.
Coming to terms with the psychological impact of amputation is therefore often as important as coping with the physical demands.
Having an amputation can have a considerable psychological impact for three main reasons:
- you have to cope with the loss of sensation from your amputated limb
- you have to cope with the loss of function from your amputated limb
- your sense of body image, and other people’s perception of your body image has changed
Negative thoughts and emotions are common after an amputation. This is particularly true in people who’ve had an emergency amputation because they don’t have time to mentally prepare for the effects of surgery.
Common negative emotions and thoughts experienced by people after an amputation include:
- denial (refusing to accept that they need to make changes, such as having physiotherapy, to adapt to life with an amputation)
- feeling suicidal
People who’ve had an amputation as a result of trauma (particularly members of the armed forces) also have an increased risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Talk to your care team about your thoughts and feelings, particularly if you’re feeling depressed or suicidal. You may need additional treatment, such as antidepressants or counselling, to improve your ability to cope after having an amputation. Organisations like the Samaritans are always there to listen. See here for more details.
Help And Support
Being told you need to have a limb amputated can be a devastating and frightening experience. Adjusting to life after an amputation can be challenging, but many people enjoy a good quality of life once they have managed to adapt.
You may find it useful to join a support group for people living with amputations. Finding Your Feet can offer this, in the form of our Facebook groups and the numerous clubs we run. Our clubs are varied and while some are really good for physical rehabilitation, mobility, strength and fitness, others are centred around gentler activities with the focus being more on social inclusion and providing a network that encourages and enables amputees to come together and meet one another. We also have our in-house Counsellor Michelle available who can work with you on a one to one basis either over the phone or face to face, depending on your own preference and locality. For more information……