The Impact of Chronic Illness On Your Mental Health
It may be too painful to recall how it all felt the day you received a terrifying diagnosis or experienced a heart attack. When both your future and present life as you knew it flashed through the frame, you panned the camera attempting to stop it – to freeze time – but it all became a blur.
If you’re managing a chronic condition like pain, you may have no problem capturing the slow-moving image of your life because it’s one you relive day after day.
No matter your exact situation, chronic illness places unforeseen limits on your life. What once were daily or favorite activities may now be challenges. You may suddenly find yourself unable to exercise, work, or socialize the way you once did. This can be extremely difficult to come to terms with.
Coping With Emotional Stress & Chronic Illness
The emotional stress of living with a chronic illness is often compounded by other factors. You might feel like a burden on friends and family members, struggle financially, experience physical limitations, and social isolation.
These factors can lead to mental health effects and conditions, including anxiety, PTSD, and depression. Of these conditions, depression is the most common complication, affecting around one- third of individuals with chronic illness.
A few of these chronic illnesses that commonly trigger depression include:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Autoimmune diseases
- Heart disease
- HIV or AIDS
- Parkinson’s disease
Watch Out For Depression Symptoms
It starts with the normal feelings of sadness or discouragement when faced with a chronic condition. Then the anxiety, stress, and physical changes that follow can trigger depression symptoms. And the more severe the illness, the higher the risk of depression.
It’s also important to note that certain medications for treatment and a family history of depression can increase one’s risk for depression even more. While symptoms can lessen as individuals adjust to or treat their physical condition, they can linger for some, lasting longer than a couple of weeks. If this happens, it could indicate depression.
Stay tuned in to the way you feel physically and emotionally. The impact of depression goes beyond your mood. In fact, people with depression are also at a greater risk of developing a physical illness – it goes both ways.
That is, the mind and body are more intertwined than we sometimes realize, so if, in addition to your chronic illness or pain, you find yourself feeling persistently sad, hopeless, disinterested, restless, or empty, please reach out for help.
Living with a chronic illness is hard enough, but a mental health condition on top of that can feel downright unbearable and unfair. You are likely already struggling to get through the day with a chronic illness, but depression can make you not even want to try.
You may not be able to freeze the frame of your life or do everything that you once did – at least not right now. But you can still enjoy many meaningful aspects of life, such as time with family and friends, when depression is out of the picture.
Look Beyond Conventional Therapies For Support For Depression
Talking to a mental health professional can be incredibly helpful. You don’t have to manage the stress and challenges of living with a chronic illness alone. In cases where therapy and medication aren’t enough, Ketamine therapy and intranasal esketamine can provide relief for depression, PTSD, and chronic pain.