Mental Health Care for Burn Survivors

It is extremely common for survivors of serious burn incidents to suffer from deteriorating mental health. If the patient is treated at a registered and verified burn unit, the health care team should know to be on guard for signs of mental health problems. The burn survivor’s family and friends should also be educated about signs of mental health concerns, so that the patient will receive continued support after discharge from the hospital.

Specific Types of Mental Health Concerns

Burn patients may experience a period of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) immediately after the burn incident, which may or may not continue after release. The symptoms and effects of PTSD may include: frequently reliving the burn incident, avoiding situations similar to the incident that caused the burn, stress and anxiety symptoms, and other emotional changes. PTSD may be treated with a combination of prescribed medication and behavioral therapy.

Depression and anxiety are common mental health ailments after a burn injury. Both depression and anxiety may onset immediately following the injury or after the patient has been released and is attempting to re-enter his or her normal life. Patients with severe burns and disfigurement are especially susceptible to serious depression and should consider seeking immediate and long-term professional mental health care to aid the transition out of the hospital.

Drug addiction may be considered a mental health ailment. Some burn patients who receive long-term treatment with narcotic pain medications may find it difficult, if not impossible, to wean themselves from the narcotics. Treatment of post-burn drug addiction may require in-patient or out-patient care.

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