The Cycle of Impact: How Does Chronic Illness and Mental Health Feed into Each Other?

A wide range of emotions can come along with learning you have a chronic illness. Learning to deal with your condition and the limitations it can put on your daily life can become overwhelming. By understanding these emotions and utilizing a variety of coping mechanisms, you can better manage the impact your chronic illness has on your mental health. As we look at the connection between chronic illness and mental health, we’ll share some tips to help you cope and the role Healing Foundations Center can play in the process.

How Chronic Illness Impacts Mental Health

A diagnosis of a chronic illness not only brings the illness itself but carries daily difficulties and a substantial impact on your mental health. Diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke victims are all at risk of developing depression. [1] In the case of diabetes, those receiving that diagnosis are two to three times more likely to be depressed compared to those without diabetes. [2]

The link between heart disease and mental health is also essential to look at because those diagnosed with heart disease can not only develop mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, but biological and chemical factors that can trigger mental health issues can also impact heart disease. [3]

People who have just had a stroke or who have Parkinson’s disease can also experience severe mental health issues. Since Parkinson’s disease and stroke can cause changes in the brain, they can play a direct role in causing depression. The same is true for those with multiple sclerosis because the brain, spinal cord, and nerves are all affected. As many as half of those with MS can also experience depression. [4]

Consider this breakdown of how many chronic illness patients are dealing with depression [5]:

  • 51% of Parkinson’s Patients
  • 42% of Cancer Patients
  • 23% Cerebrovascular Patients
  • 17% Cardiovascular Patients
  • 11% Alzheimer’s Patients

It’s also interesting to note that research shows people suffering from depression and other medical illnesses tend to have more severe symptoms of both illnesses. [1] The medication someone is taking for their physical illness can negatively impact their mental health, triggering depression. Symptoms of depression can also linger even if a person’s physical health improves.

While chronic illness can bring about depression, depression can also impact the body physically by causing increased inflammation, elevated stress levels, and changes in blood circulation and heart rate. [1] This is why understanding the link between the two is so critical.

Difficulties Associated with Chronic Illness

Mental health issues can often be the result of the difficulties that people with chronic illnesses deal with daily. They may have also always been there but are just surfacing due to the impact of the chronic illness. Constantly being in pain or missing out on events because you’re not well enough to attend can all harm your mental health. If not dealt with properly, this type of frustration can create a cycle of mental health problems that will negatively impact your overall health.

Frequent trips to the doctor’s office can also cause anxiety and lead to mental illness. Having a bad experience due to a chronic illness can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder in some patients. This is why treating mental illness along with the chronic condition is vital.

Coping with Chronic Illness and Mental Health

Learning to cope with mental health issues caused by chronic illness can help to make you feel better and better manage your symptoms.

Eat Well

Healthy meals and not skipping meals can help manage blood sugar and mood.

Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep can help to reduce stress and keep you focused. It can also help your body function better, assisting in managing chronic illness.

Attending a Support Group

Speaking to and being around people experiencing the same emotions can provide comfort. At Healing Foundations Center, we offer treatment for depression that includes group therapy sessions as well as one-on-one consultations. Sharing emotions and experiences is one way to cope with everything that is going on around you.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is another method used to treat people with mental illness. This involves changing the thought patterns that can make depression and anxiety worse. Patients learn how to better manage chronic physical symptoms as well as how to manage their emotions effectively. They also learn problem-solving techniques and coping mechanisms for different situations.

Holistic Wellness Plan

You may want to speak to your healthcare provider to see if a holistic plan would benefit your mental health or chronic illness. Yoga and meditation reduce stress and may also provide physical health benefits.

Practicing Compassion or Patience

When you’re not feeling physically and mentally well, practicing compassion for yourself and patience is vital. Try not to be too hard on yourself for feeling the way you do or having physical limitations. This can help you to manage your symptoms better and look ahead instead of constantly getting down on yourself.

Contact Healing Foundations for Mental Health Treatment

Seeking help for mental health issues as soon as you suspect them or realize you have them is critical. Suppose you’re suddenly dealing with a chronic condition, and you’re having trouble sleeping or concentrating or have a sudden loss of interest in the things you used to enjoy. In that case, you may be suffering from a mental health illness. These are indications that you want to seek help sooner rather than later. Some patients prefer to seek help at the onset of their chronic illness diagnosis. This way, they can take preventative steps to help with their mental health.

At Healing Foundations Center, we help people with various mental health issues. We help people overcome their challenges to live whole and productive lives. To learn more about how we can help you, call us today or contact us online for more information.