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Depression after Spinal Cord Injury


Depression may happen right away or develop weeks or months after the injury. You may be very sad and grieve for the way your life was before the injury. You may be angry and blame yourself or others for what happened. You may have a hard time adjusting to being dependent on others for your care. You may also be sad or depressed because you are not able to do the things you enjoy. Some medicines that you take for this injury or other health problems may also make you feel depressed.


Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You are not able to cope with normal daily activities.
  • You think about killing yourself or someone else.

Call your doctor or therapist if:

  • You cannot eat or you are eating more than usual.
  • You are not able to sleep well or you are sleeping more than usual.
  • You feel anxious, restless, angry, or you have a panic attack after starting antidepressant medicine.
  • You feel that you are becoming depressed again after starting antidepressant medicine.
  • You cannot make it to your next visit.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

The following resources are available at any time to help you, if needed:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK)
  • Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE)
  • For a list of international numbers:


  • Antidepressants may be given to decrease or stop depression. They usually take several weeks to start working. You may need to take antidepressants for up to 1 year. If you have had more than 2 past episodes of major depression, you may need to use antidepressants longer. Several kinds of antidepressants are available. It may take some time to find the one that works best for you.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your therapist or doctor as directed:

Tell your therapist or doctor about side effects or problems you may be having with your depression medicine. Sometimes the kind and amount of medicine may have to be changed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


is a way for you to talk with healthcare providers about how you feel. This can be done alone or in a group. It may also be done with family members or a significant other.

For support and more information:

  • National Spinal Cord Injury Association
    1 Church Street, Suite 600
    Rockville , MD 20850
    Phone: 1- 800 - 962-9629
    Web Address:
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Office of Science Policy, Planning, and Communications
    6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6200, MSC 9663
    Bethesda , MD 20892-9663
    Phone: 1- 301 - 443-4513
    Phone: 1- 866 - 615-6464
    Web Address:

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Depression after Spinal Cord Injury (Aftercare Instructions)

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.