Discussions on scoliosis are often focused on its physical characteristics and effects. But sufferers of this condition are usually battling another kind of pain, which can be deeper and more damaging: Mental and emotional issues.
Many scoliosis patients deal with body image issues that deplete their self-esteem. Teens especially struggle the most, because they’re at the phases of their lives where their bodies start to mature. And the noticeable curvature of their spine can thwart the excitement they feel for their physical growth.
Hence, patients should receive a stellar scoliosis private treatment. Their skilled doctor can refer them to a counselor, who will help them cope with their condition through cognitive behavior therapy.
That said, let’s further discuss the mental and emotional impacts of scoliosis.
Body Image Issues
Scoliosis also affects the shape of the rib cage, shoulders, and hips. As a result, the entire body can stand at a noticeable angle. This tends to be a big deal for teens, who are starting to feel more conscious of their bodies.
The curve of the spine doesn’t have to be very pronounced for body image issues to arise. As a parent or friend of a teen with scoliosis, you’ll notice their self-esteem dwindling when they refuse to wear swimsuits or any tight-fitting clothing.
A study in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery stated that scoliosis negatively impacts psychosocial functioning. Patients are reported to experience low self-esteem, mood fluctuations, low self-image, worry over peer relations, alcohol problems, and even suicidal thoughts.
This study also showed that scoliosis patients scored high in increased body dissatisfaction.
Stress and Negative Emotions
Stress can start as soon as the patient gets diagnosed. They’ll typically experience anxiety, fear, and withdrawal. If they’re required to wear back braces, their stress can be more intense. They’ll feel different from their peers who don’t wear back braces, so they’ll try to hide them with their clothes. They may even refuse to wear it on some social ocassions. Teasing from other teens may also be inevitable.
And all of these circumstances can make them feel worse if their parents nag at them to wear the braces.
Stress and negative emotions may also arise while teens are receiving treatment. If surgery is prescribed, they’ll fear its risks and the procedure itself. They’ll also worry about missing out in school and in their social lives. They may fear that their friends will turn their backs on them. And body image issues may still persist. They’ll bear concerns on how their bodies will look like after the surgery.
Hence, it’s highly important for teens to understand the benefits of their treatment. If they remain to be in denial of their condition, their mental health will extremely suffer. They may be at risk of alcoholism, suicidal episodes, and other detrimental issues.
On a positive note, though, not all teens are with scoliosis suffer from poor mental health. A study has found that 40% of them aren’t bothered by their condition, while half of those who’s had surgery felt more independent and mature afterwards.
Techniques to Improve Mental Health
One of the coping mechanisms that may be taught to scoliosis patients is relaxation techniques. This can be in the form of breathing exercises and other activities where they can be calm.
Soaking in a relaxing bath, taking a walk in nature, reading, indulging in a massage, yoga, journal-writing, stretching, and listening to calming music are a few examples of effective relaxation techniques. They may not cure the pain, but they can reduce stress significantly.
A scoliosis patient’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. If you know someone feeling depressed due to their condition, reach out a hand to help and support them.