Undergoing an amputation after a traumatic accident can have a range of effects, and these effects can be physical, emotional, and psychological. For many people, the sense of loss is profound, and it can be difficult to adapt to the reality of the situation. Physiopedia explains some of the common psychological and emotional reactions to amputation.

Certain factors can impact the type of reaction a person has. In general, the older the person is the harder it is to cope with the loss of a limb. This is especially true for people whose amputations are caused by traumatic events. Unlike amputations linked to chronic illness, which allows a person time to accept and adjust, a sudden trauma can cause significant psychological events, including depression. A person’s social network and personality type can also play a role.

In many cases, amputation is accompanied by the traditional grief response that occurs after the loss of a loved one. This entails five stages, beginning with denial. During this stage, a person may refuse assistance related to planning or navigating the operation. Next is anger, and in many instances anger is directed at medical staff for removing the limb.

After anger comes bargaining, which is often characterized by guilt and attempts to prevent the amputation from occurring. Depression soon follows. At this point, a person may feel hopeless when faced with the gravity of the situation, which can eventually lead to the last stage, acceptance. While many people are eventually able to cope with the situation, others may be stubborn about accepting help or they may lash out when help is offered.