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Mental Health and Chronic illness #CauseAChatter

#MentalAwareness #MentalHealth

Illness of any kind is a stressful period for a person if the illness is a prolonged one then coping with it is more difficult. The rising trend in chronic illness has led to a rise in associated mental disorders too. Mental health disorders affect a person’s thinking, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning.

When you have a chronic illness mental health is affected. A prolonged feeling of sadness is the first response of a person towards illness. People Cope up with Sadness but when it lasts for more than 3-4 weeks and is leading to disruption in your routine work then it’s not normal.

There are many chronic illnesses:

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Cerebrovascular diseases
  • Diabetes/ Hypertension
  • Cancer
  • Neurological diseases (Alzheimer/ Parkinsonism)
  • Accidents: Road-Traffic Accidents/ Sports

These could be a very stressful time for the patient while dealing with the illness which might lead to Mental illness like:

  • Major Anxiety Disorder
  • Major depressive illness
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia/ Psychotic Disorder

[Tweet “Major Depressive illness is the most common associated mental disease with chronic illness.”]

How do we know that we have Depression?

  • Feeling sad/ irritable/ anxious
  • Feeling empty/ hopeless/ worthless/ guilty
  • Loss of pleasure in activities/ hobbies
  • Fatigue/ low energy/ feeling low
  • Trouble in concentration/ difficulty in making decisions.
  • Loss of sleep/ excessive sleep
  • Loss of appetite/ overeating
  • Thoughts about Death/ suicide
  • Generalized pain/ Headache/ GI problems

What are the risk factors of Mental Disease?

  • Family history of mental disorders
  • Stressful life conditions
  • Traumatic experiences
  • Drugs/ substance abuse
  • Childhood neglect/ abuse
  • Lack of social support

Why do people have Depression with Chronic Illness?

When someone has chronic illness many new factors enter life and people are not always able to cope with all of them

  • Financial burden
  • Physical disability
  • Functional impairment
    • Mental
    • Social
    • Physical
  • Social stigma/ discrimination

[Tweet “Depression is treatable, Don’t hide it. Choose the path towards better #MentalHealth.”]

How do we treat Depression with Chronic Illness?

The treatment of depression goes hand in hand with the illness. Clinician plays a key role in providing medical management and Hope to the patient. It’s in the clinicians hand to provide giving realistic hope to the patient.

Healthy coping needs Positive Thinking which is aided with family, friends and social support.

The patient should learn to:

  • Express themselves
  • Discuss the disease & outcomes
  • Share the feelings like fear or sadness
  • Overcome anxiety

Psychiatrist/ Psychologists plays a major role in treating mental disorders.

Group Sessions & Therapies:

Sessions with people facing similar illness help patient in facing the issue. They could share the fears and anxiety and see the progression of the disease. they deal better with illness when they can see how other people with similar problems are coping with it.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy:

CBT acts on the frontal area of the brain and they modify the cognitive, behavioral & emotional response towards the symptoms. The insight of the patient is developed so that he can recognize the disease and the symptoms so that they intervene in their thoughts and behaviors even the response to improve the emotions and mood.

The therapy teaches patients to catch and change unhelpful thinking patterns and immediately engage in relaxation exercises they are taught to change behaviors. The overall focus of CBT is to reduce anxiety and depression thereby allaying the acute exacerbation and improves the daily functioning.

Antidepressant medicines

The medications are very helpful in reducing depression.

As a clinician I know that our approach is always towards the treating illness with total disregards towards Quality of Life after treatment or Impact of treatment or its adverse effects. I think an empathic, open approach to patients is required for better mental health.

This post is a part of the initiative by Blogchatter- Blogging with a Cause #CauseAChatter. I’d love to spread knowledge on the dreaded topic of Mental illness through a series of posts throughout the year.

Be Happy and Be Healthy

Disclaimer: This article is for reference purposes only, under no circumstances it should be used as a replacement of medical opinion by Professionals. Any decision regarding health and health care should be taken after professional advice only. Health care advice and information shared by the author are best to her knowledge. We disclaim all responsibilities for any inadvertent omission/ commission by the author or the website.


6 thoughts on “Mental Health and Chronic illness #CauseAChatter”

  1. I think we often overlook the importance of Mental Health. As entrepreneurs we can get so focused on building our businesses, that we can forget to look after ourselves. If we are so busy we cannot realize that we might be exhibiting the symptoms of depression or overwhelm. And if we don’t realize we are experiencing these symptom, we cannot get the help we need. Thank you for the detailed article and tips on how to overcome these challenges.

  2. Chronic physical illness can influence mental health directly or indirectly. In fact there is a cyclical relationship, where suffering from depression, for example, makes it harder to maintain the energy and motivation needed to work on improving the physical illness. Taking care the mental health along with the physical illness can greatly improve quality of life. Thanks for this informative post, Richa!

  3. Thank you for sharing this! I’ve seen this mental illness play out in family members dealing with chronic illness. Mental illness is often ignored or brushed off and not treated as seriously as physical illness. So I’m so grateful that you’re sharing this info, it’s so valuable.

  4. My pcp office has the nurse ask you some general mental health questions when they take your blood pressure and temp but they were only geared towards extreme cases. She asked if I was suicidal or had thoughts of suicide recently, and If I felt like harming myself. I said no, but my anxiety was getting out of control. The dr I saw that day told me to just try to relax and drink more water. I was like no I really think I need medication because the anxiety is causing my migraines to get worse and I was getting horrible pain in my lowers torso and she was like yeah I don’t think so. The pain got worse which led to more anxiety and I went to multiple specialists who ruled a lot of things out, but couldn’t figure out what it was. I ended up back at my gyno who thought it might be my anxiety causing me to tighten up internal muscles. We tried a few anxiety medications but I had bad reactions to them. While I was trying the medications, She referred me to a pelvic floor therapist who diagnosed me (FINALLY) with high tone pelvic floor. She taught me stretches and breathing exercises. She reminded me the importance of taking time for myself. My gyno and the PF Therapist were the first ones who took my anxiety seriously. I knew I needed to find ways to relax, but it was easier said than done. Having a therapist doing the stretches and breathing exercises with me helped me to relax and feel at ease.

    1. it’s a very important issue but people disregard mental health. it can cause neurogenic pains, muscle tone changes, spasmodic pains which could get releived by therapies. i’m glad that people diagnosed you and you’re better now.

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