Anxiety or depression with chronic illness is not unusual
Many individuals who suffer from a chronic health condition experience some symptoms of anxiety or depression. There are several different types of both anxiety and depression. Yesterday, we discussed symptoms of some common forms. Please read part 1 if you are trying to identify symptoms of anxiety or depression. Thanks again to Karaleigh for guest posting.
Diagnosis with a chronic illness can trigger many fears as discussed in part 1. While most of our fears may not ever become reality, others could. These thoughts can sometimes lead to anxiety, panic or depression. Remember, if anxiety or depression is persistent and affects your life significantly, you cannot just snap out of it.
Ways to help fight anxiety and depression
Whether we are fighting a disorder or just a nuisance, it is important for us to learn ways of coping with these fears, anxiety and sadness. We must learn to laugh, schedule our time appropriately, sleep enough each night, take time out of our day to relax and recuperate from our activities, and ask for help. We must also remember to care for our physical health, so that we can be emotionally healthy.
Studies show it is important to have a good support system of friends, family, community and spirituality in order to cope with any physical or mental ailment. Simple things like pets can help: Studies also show that fish, cats, dogs, horses and other animals can decrease stress, anxiety and depression. Petting an animal actually will increase the chemicals released in your brain that make you happy! These endorphins are the same chemicals that are also released from eating chocolate or having sexual intercourse.
Needing help with anxiety or depression
It is okay to cry, scream or even ask, “why me?” These are normal – even healthy – reactions. It is when your reactions and emotions consume your life and affect your daily living that it is time to seek help. If you have tried and none of the usual methods help the anxiety or depression to pass, maybe you need outside help.
Treatment for anxiety or depression can include, counseling from a mental health professional and /or a spiritual advisor, group therapy, medications, or talking to a friend or family member. Some people also use alternative methods such as acupuncture, chiropractor, herbs and vitamins, yoga, Pilates, art therapy, exercise or even pet therapy to compliment other forms of treatment.
We can begin to change our focus by keeping a list of things that make us happy or that we can do when we are scared, anxious or depressed. Below is my list, feel free to borrow from it for your own list.
Things to do when I feel anxious or depressed:
- Take slow deep breaths
- Keep my thoughts realistic: Is it really the end of the world or just a bump in the road?
- Call a friend
- Play with my dogs
- Take my dogs for a walk
- Take a hot bubble bath, light candles and listen to soft music
- Take a nap or some chill time
- Watch a funny movie
- Write in my journal
- Dance (even if I look silly or am alone in my house)
- Get a massage, facial, manicure, pedicure or hair done
- Go to my place of worship
- Visualize myself on a beach relaxing
- Go for a drive
- Surround yourself with positive, supportive, loving people
- Remember that everything happens for a reason, even though we may not know what that reason is today
At this link you will find a self assessment of depression courtesy of Mayo Clinic. To find a counselor, therapist or mental health professional in your area, contact your local hospital, insurance company or doctor’s office for recommendations. You could also ask a friend or spiritual advisor if they can recommend someone.
If you have thoughts of death, dying or suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 to talk to a trained counselor or go to your local emergency room. This number is good for anyone in the United States, is toll-free and is available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
For additional information on the following disorders please follow these links:
- Anxiety and Depression with Chronic Illness, part 1
- Losses of Rheumatoid Arthritis: Photos & Other Things
- Rheumatoid Arthritis Anger
- Be Your Own Counselor with Rheumatoid Arthritis