Many people talk about burn injuries primarily in terms of the physical symptoms that they cause. The pain, itching and recovery from surgery may take precedence in your own consciousness as well, at least at first.
However, burn injuries can have psychological effects as well. You may find that these are as significant as the physical symptoms.
What are the psychological symptoms of a burn injury?
According to the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center, you may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep following a burn injury. This may be because you have intrusive thoughts about what happened or worries about it happening again. It may also be because you feel “super alert” and on guard to prevent anything else from happening or because your startle reflex has become more sensitive.
You may have difficulty finding pleasure in activities that you used to enjoy. You may avoid talking about the accident or situations that remind you of it. These are symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which can occur following a life-threatening experience such as a severe burn.
What can you do about the psychological symptoms?
If you are experiencing challenges in your emotional recovery, you should let your burn team know. Your doctors may recommend various treatment options. These may include medications to help you sleep and to counteract symptoms of anxiety and depression. Your burn team may also send you to psychotherapy to learn strategies to cope with your symptoms.
Not all burn survivors experience psychological symptoms. Nevertheless, if you do experience the psychological effects of your injury, it can help to seek out support groups of other survivors to talk about your experiences. These groups are available in person and online.