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Learning that you have an illness can come as a shock. Even though you might know that your likelihood of developing a serious or chronic disease increases with age, the news can be alarming and bewildering. You may experience a wide range of intense emotions, and you could feel especially vulnerable. Coping with illness can be challenging.

Understanding Chronic Illness

When you’re diagnosed with an illness, you likely have many questions. Working with a trusted health care provider can help you educate yourself about the disease. Understanding chronic illness can help you think logically instead of letting your thoughts get out of control. Education can also help you manage the disease and develop coping skills. If you have a chronic disease, you’ll probably need some type of treatment for the rest of your life. Learning how to control your condition can help you thrive in the face of your sickness.

Some of the things that you’ll need to learn more about include:

• How to live with the physical symptoms
• How to undergo and manage treatments
• How to communicate with your doctors
• How to stay mentally healthy
• How to maintain your well-being

The more that you arm yourself with information about your condition, the easier it may be to adjust to your “new normal.”

Psychological Effects of Chronic Illness

It’s natural to question why you would be afflicted with a chronic illness. It might feel unfair. You might feel isolated because other people don’t understand how the symptoms affect you. You could even be ashamed that you’re sick.

Some common emotions that may bombard you when you find out that you have a chronic illness are:

• Guilt
• Shame
• Grief
• Denial
• Anger
• Sadness

Some of the psychological issues that can crop up in someone who is coping with an illness include:

• Depression – You may feel sad or hopeless because you’ve lost certain aspects of your lifestyle or identity.
Anxiety – You may be worried about the pain or progression of the illness as well as your coping skills.
• Rage – You may be angry at the changes in your life or the pain that you’re dealing with.
• Stress – You may be stressed about finances, mobility, attending doctors’ appointments and changing your lifestyle.

Coping With Chronic Illness and Depression

Coping with a chronic illness can be challenging if you don’t have tools, resources and support. Working with a therapist or counselor can help you sort through your feelings and work on ways of coping with the psychological effects of chronic illness.

One of the first steps in coping with chronic illness and depression is accepting the diagnosis. Even though you might want to pretend that everything is fine, you need to face the illness. One way to do this is to write down your thoughts, feelings, doubts, worries and questions.

Depression can also co-occur with other diseases, such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and cancer. The depression can make it harder for people to recover from the physical ailment. The illness can also make the depression worse.

Share your emotions and concerns with your therapist and physician. A mental health practitioner can help you develop personalized and appropriate coping strategies.

Ask your doctor questions so that you can get a better understanding of the disease. When you confront your illness, you’ll also empower yourself with knowledge. This will help you learn what to expect moving forward so that you can take action instead of resigning yourself to the sickness.

Connecting with your body can also put you in the driver’s seat. Learn to recognize the way that your body feels on good days and not-so-good days. By doing this, you can get some insight into the factors that improve your symptoms or make them worse.

Surround yourself with people who can support you. You might need to ask for help from friends and loved ones. Perhaps you need someone to drive you to appointments or help you with grocery shopping. Maybe you just want to be able to vent to a friend without being judged.

Communicate with your friends and family members. They won’t know what you need unless you’re clear about your desires. A therapist can help you develop the communication skills that allow you to improve your interpersonal relationships and minimize conflict.

Maintaining a healthy diet can also make coping with a disease easier. Many mental health conditions are connected to your gut health. Consuming the proper nutrients helps your body heal.

Lessen the burden and develop helpful coping strategies by working with the therapists at Blue Moon Senior Counseling.

Contact Us Today or Call (630) 896-7160