The Connection Between Chronic Illness and Mental Health
February 17, 2023
It's no secret that chronic illnesses can take a toll on your physical health. But what you may not realize is that chronic illnesses can also contribute to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. In fact, research has shown that people with chronic illnesses are more likely to have or develop a mental health condition.
If you're living with a chronic illness, it's important to be aware of the connection between your physical and mental health. Here's what you need to know about the link between chronic illness and mental health.
The link between chronic illness and mental health
There are a number of reasons why chronic illness can lead to mental health problems. First, living with a chronic illness can be stressful. You may worry about your health, your medications, and how your illness will affect your family and friends. You may also feel isolated from others because you can't do the things you used to do or go the places you used to go. All of this stress can contribute to anxiety and depression.
In addition, some chronic illnesses can cause changes in brain chemistry that lead to mental health problems. For example, people with diabetes are at increased risk for developing dementia, while people with autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis are at increased risk for developing depression. Some medications used to treat chronic illnesses can also cause changes in brain chemistry that lead to mental health problems.
Chronic pain can also lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Pain can be difficult to deal with on a daily basis, and it can make it hard to get a good night's sleep. When you're in pain, it's easy to focus on all the things you can't do because of your pain instead of all the things you can do despite your pain. All of this can lead to feelings of hopelessness, despair, and worthlessness.
How to maintain good mental health with a chronic illness
There are several protective factors that can help protect your mental well-being, such as:
Strong social support network: Having friends and family members who you can rely on can help reduce stress and promote positive coping skills.
Healthy coping skills: Some healthy coping skills include exercise, relaxation techniques (such as yoga or meditation), journaling, and time management skills. Learning healthy coping skills can help you better manage stressors in your life.
If you're living with a chronic illness, it's important that you take extra care of your mental-wellbeing. There are several steps you can take to protect your mental health, such as building a strong social support network, practicing healthy coping skills, and talking to your physician. If you're struggling with your mental health, don't hesitate to reach out for help from a therapist or someone you trust, who can help you manage your symptoms.