How Chronic Illness Affects Mental Health
Chronic illnesses are difficult to cope with. They present several challenges to one’s physical health and lifestyle, but they also have a significant impact on one’s mental and emotional health. Chronic illness can also affect the mental and emotional health of the sufferer’s family and friends.
Chronic illness refers to an illness or condition that is long-term, usually life-long. The diagnosis of a chronic illness can bring relief in individuals who have suffered from bothersome or painful symptoms and are able to learn how they can treat and manage their condition. But for many, the diagnosis of a chronic illness can mean stress and change.
Stress, Mental Health and Chronic Illness
Individuals must learn to live with the physical effects of the disease and adapt to the demands of treatments, tests and new limitations. Understanding the illness and all that it entails can put a significant amount of strain on mental health, as one learns how to cope with the illness for the rest of his or her life. This is especially true when the illness causes pain, some form of debilitation or even eventual death.
A chronic illness may restrict an individual from certain activities, pastimes and social activities and can make simple, everyday tasks far more challenging. This can be very frustrating and upsetting, as one has to build a new life around the management of the illness. One’s relationships, career, finances, physical abilities, appearance, health and social life can be considerably affected by the diagnosis of a chronic illness.
These challenges along with adverse symptoms of a chronic illness can make life more stressful. Individuals can experience a broad range of emotions, from anger to loneliness, hopelessness to fear, sadness to despair. Chronic illness may involve numerous trips to the doctor, experimenting with various treatment methods and therapies, and learning new and evolving information. Keeping a positive attitude while facing so much physical and emotional stress is tough. It is not uncommon for mental health issues like depression and anxiety to stem from the diagnosis of a chronic illness as well as substance abuse or addiction.
Coping with Mental Health Issues and Chronic Illness
Coping with chronic illness may not always be easy, especially when the condition causes pain, is debilitating or could end in eventual death. In order to avoid mental health issues and other problems related to chronic illness, individuals should take the time to learn all they can about their condition. By educating themselves, individuals will feel less vulnerable and more in control of their future. This can also encourage better relationships with health care professionals and others providing treatment and diminish doubt and worry. Individuals should also make sure they have emotional support and are able to talk about their challenges, concerns and issues with family members, friends or a counselor. In addition, those who need assistance with household tasks and other responsibilities should ask for it before they become too stressed and overwhelmed. To keep a positive outlook, individuals should set both short- and long-term reasonable goals with their doctor or other treatment provider. This can support the mindset that one can continue improving his or her lifestyle in spite of the condition.
Get Help Coping with Chronic Illness and Mental Health Problems
If you or a loved one’s chronic illness has resulted in a mental health problem or addiction, we can help. Please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to speak with a recovery professional. Whether you still have questions, need information, or are looking for treatment and recovery help today, we are happy to assist you.