Common Questions About Chronic Illness
- Is this clinical depression typical for someone with my illness?
- I feel angry and jealous of everyone who seems healthy. Is this normal?
- It feels as if people don’t understand what I’m going through and they can’t be there for me.
What the experts say: Chronic Illness
Very often people who have a chronic illness, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), diabetes, cancer, autoimmune conditions, etc., experience some depression. It is normal to feel sad, blue and frightened when one’s physical health is challenged. Most of the time one’s doctor can prescribe medication to help with mild depression and/or anxiety. In some cases, therapy is recommended to help alleviate the symptoms.
Sometimes people with chronic illness experience more intense depression characterized by a prominent and persistent disturbance in mood that is judged to be a direct physiological consequence of a general medical condition.
What Else You Should Know About Chronic Illness
The emotional impact of having a chronic illness can often feel as devastating as the physical illness itself. It is common for people to feel sad, scared, angry, jealous, or alone. One of the most difficult things for people to deal with is the feeling that their friends and loved ones (and sometimes even their doctors) don’t really understand what they are going through and, therefore, can’t be there to support them. This contributes even more to their sense of aloneness and sadness.
For those who deal with a chronic illness on a daily basis, developing a relationship with someone who is supportive, helpful, and understands what they are going through can make all the difference in the world. That is why things that help people feel understood and more connected to others such as support groups, individual therapy, couples counseling and family therapy tend to generate a greater sense of hope, happiness, and peace.
Another thing to be aware of is that some “experts” claim that patients can help heal themselves by reducing stress. However, while stress reduction IS very important in improving the quality of life for someone with a chronic illness, it CANNOT cure chronic illness.
It is often helpful for people to know that seeing a therapist for help with these issues can be extremely beneficial. In these situations, the therapy is not about deep-seated “psychological issues”. At Birmingham Maple Clinic, it is about helping a person living with illness deal with the reality of their illness. It’s also to help patients develop techniques for communicating effectively with their doctors, family, friends and co-workers.
For more information visit Healing Well.