Coping with an illness is hard enough. You may feel tired or in pain. The illness can limit activities you once took for granted. But the effects don’t stop at the physical.
A serious or chronic illness or condition can change the way you live, see yourself and relate to others. Depression is one of the most common complications of chronic illness, affecting up to one-third of individuals. Other mental health effects include anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD and more.
The rate of depression is high in people after a heart attack, with about 40-65 percent of people experiencing depression. It’s also common in people with chronic illnesses like the following:
Many people feel sad or discouraged when faced with a chronic condition. The physical changes, anxiety and stress associated with the illness can trigger symptoms of depression. The risk of depression increases with the severity of the illness and the level of life disruption it causes. A personal or family history of depression raises the risk even more.
Certain medications to treat the illness may also trigger depression. Some conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and stroke, cause changes in the brain that can lead to depression.
How can you tell if you’re depressed? The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) lists some symptoms of depression:
Symptoms may come on right after a diagnosis, and lift as you adjust to your condition. But if symptoms persist, don’t dismiss them as a normal part of having a chronic illness. Depression can interfere with your quality of life and keep you from getting proper treatment.
Depression is treatable — even when you’re dealing with another illness alongside it. Treatment for depression can make a difference in day-to-day life when you are coping with a chronic or long-term illness. It is important to treat both forms of illness at the same time.
Try these tips for mental wellness while coping with a serious or chronic illness:
At Edward-Elmhurst Health, we understand illness isn’t just a physical experience. It’s an emotional one as well. We want to address every aspect of your well-being so you can fully heal. Many of our primary care physician offices offer on-site support from behavioral health professionals.
If you’re feeling depressed, the best thing you can do is to seek help sooner rather than later. Call your doctor and figure out what your next step is so that you can get your life back on track.
Find a physician you feel comfortable with, confident in, and who partners with you in your personal health goals. We have hundreds of board-certified physicians to choose from.
Are you at risk for depression? Take our free, online Depression Aware test.
Get support from Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.
Depression can take a toll on your body, too
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