There is truth to the statement “you are only as good as you feel”. For individuals suffering from a chronic illness, feeling good is a daily struggle. Many have to face their diagnosis, long lists of prescription regimens, constant doctor appointments, and a multitude of other challenges. Throughout all of this, their mental health can often take a backseat. However, studies indicate that as the individual’s mental health suffers, their physical health also decreases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six out of every ten people, in the United States, suffer from a chronic illness; four out of every ten people suffer from two or more chronic illnesses. This leaves a large portion of our population vulnerable to the effects of depression. Also, the National Institute of Mental Health’s research indicates chronic illness sufferers with depression have more severe symptoms, both physically and mentally.
It is important to know, even with a chronic illness, there is help and depression can be treated! Different steps can be taken:
- The individual needs to keep its medical team up-to-date regarding their mental health. There may be other medications the team could try that may not cause or exacerbate depressive symptoms.
- Seek cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or talk therapy, with a licensed professional. It can often help combat negative thinking and feelings without adding medication.
- Sometimes, talk therapy isn’t enough, and the addition of an antidepressant is needed. The combination of
- the two often goes a long way to help alleviate how the individual feels, physically and mentally.
- Seek out support groups in the community or online. Depending on the illness, some cities may have weekly or monthly meetings for individuals experiencing the same illness; hospitals, clinics, and churches are great resources to go to for local support groups. If there isn’t anything available locally, or the individual isn’t capable of leaving home, check online; often, there are websites dedicated to that disease which can help. Facebook is another resource which may have an online group dedicated specifically for those suffering from the illness.
- Having the support of family and friends goes a long way into helping the individual feel better; they are often the individual’s biggest cheerleaders! They can educate their support system on the illness and how to best reach out when help is needed.
It is daunting to face an illness the individual may have for the rest of their lives. It is important they know they are not facing it alone and have their feelings validated along the way. We are here to help; please contact us for appointment availability.