The Emotional Consequences of Serious Burn Injuries


Advances in medical care have allowed people with serious burns to survive their injuries. But survivors often struggle with emotional distress that can take a serious toll on their mental and physical health.

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious burn injury, help is available. Medical professionals have improved their knowledge of how to help people recover from life-altering burns. Depending on the circumstances, you might also receive financial compensation for your injuries if someone else caused them.

Forms of Emotional Distress

Burn victims feel many emotions as they attempt to recover from their injuries. If a loved one was badly burned, do not feel surprised to hear the expression of:

  • Helplessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Tension

Suffering from a burn injury creates a vicious cycle where thephysical symptoms of a burn can worsen your loved ones emotional state. For example, your loved one may experience insomnia, which can increase anxiety and irritability. As fatigue increases, burn victims might find trouble concentrating, talking, or socializing with other people, which will only increase isolation.

Why Burn Victims Feel Distress

Burn victims have a lot of time to think about their injuries, and their anxiety will increase as they worry about the future. For example, your loved one might express anxiety about:

  • Their appearance. Burns to the visible parts of the body, such as the face, can cause extreme distress. Burns can also fuse peoples fingers and toes together.
  • Itching and scars. Some burn victims become consumed with thoughts of scratching their burns to relieve the itching. However, scratching can cause more damage.
  • Ability to find work. Especially severeburns may makeyour loved one worry how to will pay medical bills and provide for the family.
  • Limited movement. Bad burns can lead to amputation of damaged limbs. Burn victims often worry about whether they can resume their old lifestyles or whether their injuries will render them permanently housebound.

Although you might want to comfort your loved one, your expressions of care often will fall on deaf ears. Instead of trying to rally the burn victim all on your own, you might need to seek out psychological counseling to help your loved one dig out of the darkness.

Distress Can Increase Physical Pain

Burns are often physically excruciating, with pain lasting for months or years as the wounds heal. The dressing process itself can cause extreme pain. Emotional distress often makes the physical pain even worse, which can interfere with your loved ones willingness to engage in physical therapy. Pain can also make communication difficult, so the burn victim may be unable to effectively speak with the medical team.

Help Is Available

Serious burn injuries are devastating, but by actively seeking out treatment, a burn victim can turn a negative spiral into a positive feedback loop, where increased mental wellness facilitates sleep, communication, and interpersonal relationships. For example, you should look into:

  • Burn victim support groups. Ask your doctors if they know of any groups. If no local group is available, then find one online. By participating in a support group, burn victims receive the emotional support they need from others who have struggled with burn injuries.
  • Psychotherapy. A mental health professional with experience helping burn victims can provide new ways to cope with emotional distress and innovative ways to strengthen social interaction.
  • Medication. A primary care physician can prescribe medicine to reduce anxiety, encourage sleep, and alleviate depression. A physician can also prescribe painkillers to help blunt the physical pain a burn victim feels.
  • A healthy diet. Although eating well wont reverse emotional distress on its own, it can alleviate some of the negative physical symptoms.
  • Physical rehabilitation. By participating in rehabilitation, your loved one might see that a life of independence is still possible in the future. This realization can boost self-esteem and create positive physical and psychological effects.

Financial Compensation

When someone else is responsible for burn injuries, you can sue them for financial compensation. A variety of circumstances can result in burn injuries, such as:

  • An automobile accident. Someone might slam into you, causing your gas tank to ignite. Or a petroleum truck might catch on fire, burning people in the nearby area. You can suffer bad burns as you fight to extricate yourself from your car.
  • Intentional burning. Someone might burn you by lighting your clothes on fire or by throwing acid in your face.
  • Dangerous premises. Faulty electrical wiring might cause a home or office to catch on fire. If the owner of the premises is especially careless, a lack of fire exits might make escape difficult.

Every situation is different, and you shouldnt assume that no one is responsible for your loved ones burns without first meeting with a Chicago personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer can carefully gather evidence—a police report, witness testimony, your own memories—and pinpoint whose carelessness caused your injury. After identifying the party at fault, you can sue for compensation (called damages), including the following:

  • Past, present, and future medical care, including hospital stays, therapy, rehabilitation, and prescription drugs
  • Past, present, and future lost wages, if the injuries prevent your loved one from returning to work
  • Pain and suffering, to compensate for the physical pain
  • Emotional distress for the negative emotional impacts of the burn injuries, including permanent disfigurement
  • Changes in your loved ones marital relationship, including the loss of care, companionship, and sexual intimacy

Speak With a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Surviving a burn injury is only the first step in a long road to recovery for burn victimsbut fortunately, financial compensation, whenavailable, may help. At Abels & Annes, our lawyers are committed to helping burn victims and their families begin to piece their lives together, one step at a time. Call us at (312) 924-7575 or contact us today for a free consultation.