As we have discussed in a previous article, many seriously injured workers believe that a workcover settlement is a windfall, a welcome piece of good fortune or personal gain, and that it will compensate them for all that they feel they have lost and endured (and still will lose and endure in many cases); and will somehow offset the limitations they will have in the future.
what many seriously injured workers don’t understand or realise is that -of course- it does not and that later realisation is quite devastating, and can bring about what is called a second wave depression.
Workcover settlements and depression
The relationship between stressful life events, our mind and body’s reaction to stress, and the onset of clinical depression is a complex one. Some, but not all, people develop depression after a stressful event in their lives. Either positive or negative events can become a crisis that precedes the development of clinical (major) depression. This is why some injured workers become more depressed after settling their workcover claim than they were during the course of care for that injury.
Let us explain: first and second wave depression
There are basically two major times when depression makes an appearance in the case of a (more serious) work-related injury.
The first wave of (major) depression emerges when the injured worker feels their injury “ruined my life and no one cares.”
But there is also a second wave of (major) depression, one that emerges as a more serious injured worker reaches their “goal” – usually the goal is a workcover “settlement”, but it could equally be for example, another, last, major surgery. As is (major) surgery, so is settlement for the more seriously injured worker : a mixture of hope, fear, confusion, concern, and desperation.
More seriously injured workers will sort of speed up or accelerate their activities to reach a positive goal, be it a workcover settlement, or major surgery. Conversely, more seriously injured workers will also pull away as they reach a goal that they consider to be negative. For example, a person may become excited and very motivated as (their) wedding approaches; while another person may become so bewildered at the prospect that they literally run away at the very last minute.This phenomenon is called the “goal gradient”.
Workcover claim settlements are in fact exactly the same way. If an injured worker perceives that their/a settlement is a solution to the problems that have been dragging on the last couple of years (or at least many many months), they will invest in their physical capacity (get fitter),even look at the possibility of reducing their medication, be talking to people about a new job (or hobby) and they will start making viable future plans.
But the fact is that many (more seriously) injured workers are not really able to mentally visualise a future plan,… and now that they are to be released from the workcover hell, now that they may/will always have pain and limitations, they will feel helpless with a degree of hopelessness, and they become (very) depressed once again. This is called the second wave depression.
Settlement times can be extremely depressing as it may just well be a dread of the only future those more seriously injured workers see remaining for them. At the end of the day, no amount of compensation will fix your injury and pain.
Somewhat related article
[Post dictated by WCV and manually transcribed on behalf of WCV]