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What are the emotional effects of amputation?

Loss of a limb affects a person both psychologically as well as physically. This is especially true when amputation results from a traumatic injury or accident as opposed to a long-term chronic illness. Navigating these emotional effects can be quite difficult, and failure to do so can inhibit the healing and rehabilitation process. Physiopedia explains the possible effects of amputation, which entail many different coping methods.

Some people experience the five stages of grief, which are usually linked to the death of a loved one. These stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. During the five stages, a person may cycle through many diverse emotions, including guilt, shame, sadness, helplessness, and many others. Also, not everyone experiences all five stages or experiences stages in their given order. It usually depends on the individual and the circumstances surrounding the amputation. 

It’s not uncommon for less healthy coping mechanisms to become evident. For instance, a person may refuse all offers of help even when necessary in an attempt to retain independence. Others will forgo therapy and rehabilitation to remain in a helpless state, and this can greatly impact one’s quality of life. Self-confidence can also be affected, particularly when it comes to appearance.

These effects are usually greatest on people who placed a great deal of importance on their image prior to the amputation. This can cause self-esteem issues as well as problems with sexual identity. People with pre-existing emotional disorders, such as depression, or substance abuse problems are also more likely to have difficulty adjusting to an amputation. In this case, a counselor may be necessary to help the person come to terms with what occurred. 

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