People with chronic illness are more likely to develop depression. People with depression are more likely to develop chronic diseases. But did you know that depression is curative even with chronic illness?
What is a chronic illness?
A chronic illness is loosely defined as:
- A condition that lasts 3 months or more
- It cannot be prevented by vaccination
- There is no cure
Some of the most common chronic diseases (diseases) include heart disease, strokes and chronic pain. It is estimated that over 100 million Americans live with at least one chronic illness and most live with at least two illnesses. Many chronic diseases are not correctly or immediately diagnosed. It can be incredibly taxing emotionally to know that something is wrong with you naturally, and yet you may not be able to get a diagnosis and treatment.
Once diagnosed, additional problems may occur. Usually, treatment focuses more on the physical part of the disease. In the meantime, the emotional aspects may not be properly addressed. At first and throughout a chronic illness, it can be difficult for you to determine how you feel.
Usually, treatment focuses more on the physical part of the disease. In the meantime, the emotional aspects may not be properly addressed.
Treatment of a diagnosis of chronic illness
A chronic diagnosis of illness can lead to a feeling of loss of self. You may be asked to reduce or eliminate certain activities. Changes in diet and exercise may be necessary. Surgery may be reported and you may have never been operated on. Many things can change once diagnosed.
But you look the same. Most chronic illnesses are invisible and this can make you feel like you are being misunderstood. It can also be confusing. What you see in the mirror is not always the correct representation of how you feel inside.
If it is difficult to edit, you can guarantee it is difficult for many others. The feeling that you have to explain your symptoms to others can be exhausting. It takes a lot of energy to get to work everyday with chronic illness, and those who don't have chronic illness can have a hard time understanding this. You may feel like you have to constantly defend yourself.
Emotionally, you may be wondering if you will feel your old self again. You may worry that loved ones will not understand. You may need to change some of your habits, reduce your responsibilities at work and at home, and your social life may hit. Some changes may be relatively easy to implement and others may prove more difficult. Depression can develop as a result of the need to make life changes, even when these changes increase your chances of surviving the disease.
How treatment can help in chronic illness and depression
If you live with chronic illness for a while, depression can develop for a variety of reasons. You may feel as if you are unable to participate in life as much as your peers. You may find it difficult to date or have children because of your illness. You may feel like your friends, family, or spouse / partner are tired of hearing your symptoms. Long-term treatment of chronic illnesses can cause feelings of isolation and lead to depression.
If you live with depression, it can be difficult to maintain good physical health. It can be difficult to eat well, exercise and get the right amount of sleep when you are depressed. Some of the drugs prescribed for depression have side effects that affect physical health, such as weight gain and cholesterol elevation. Failure to maintain good physical health could also increase the chances of developing a chronic illness. Depression can delay your search for a cure for a chronic illness.
Therapy can play an important role in the management of chronic illnesses and in the treatment of depression, offering hope and a place of healing. Treatment may:
- It helps you explore your feelings about chronic illness and depression.
- Allow yourself to develop coping skills to manage the emotional and physical aspects of chronic illness.
- It teaches you how your thoughts affect your feelings and behavior.
- It helps you uncover the underlying beliefs about chronic illness and depression, allowing you to develop new beliefs and thoughts about your illness.
- They support you in learning how to support yourself.
By improving the way you think about your illness, you can also improve the physical aspects. Treatment can help you manage chronic pain in part by helping reduce stress, which contributes to heart disease and stroke. In general, treatment can help you find your lost sense of self, handle emotions, and improve your confidence when it comes to managing daily struggles with chronic illnesses.
Finally, it may be even more beneficial to find a therapist who specializes in treating people with chronic illnesses. These therapists are likely to have a personal or deeper understanding of what it is like to live with chronic illness. Don't be afraid to ask a therapist for an understanding of chronic illness.
- Bernell S., & Howard, S. W. (2016, August 2). Use your words carefully: What is a chronic illness? Borders in public health, 4, 159. doi: 10.3389 / fpubh.2016.00159
- Chronic illness & mental health. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/chronic-illness-mental-health/index.shtml
- New CDC report: More than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes. (2017, July 18). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0718-diabetes-report.html
- Physical health and mental health. (n.d.). Mental Health Foundation. Retrieved from mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/physical-health-and-mental-health
- Stress and heart health. (2018, April 17). Retrieved from heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/stress-and-heart-health
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