How Chronic Illness Affects Mental Health

How Chronic Illness Affects Mental Health

Jessica Conaway, MS Licensed Mental Health Counselor Play Therapist

Chronic illness can sometimes be considered invisible because the outward effects may not be seen by others, however the effects on the body and mind of the afflicted can often be debilitating. Once diagnosed, doctors can be primarily focused on the immediate physical symptoms, but far too often overlook the impacts an illness has on your mental state. Meaning the patient is not only afflicted physically but also experiencing mental anguish. Often times patients feel alone in struggling with the mental effects of declining health because it’s not always acknowledged. If this is you- You are not alone.

            Chronic illness can have a range of effects on mental health — from your mood and feelings of frustration, anger and sadness, to conditions like anxiety and depression that, for some, can lead to thoughts of suicide. It’s important to recognize the variety of ways chronic illness can manifest itself in your mental health, so it becomes easier to talk about and reach out for help if you need it.

During times of illness we must be compassionate to ourselves and begin to adjust our physical expectations. The most difficult challenge is acknowledging that you might not be able to do the things the you once could or that you can do them, but just in different ways. Our bodies and our mind are connected so we must be in tune with our own needs. (which happens to be good practice anyway). If your tired, sleep in or try to conserve your energy. It’s also really important to set boundaries for yourself. Its ok to say no and not feel guilty about it. We have to take care of ourselves before we tend to others. 

            I cannot emphasize counseling enough. You’re going to need a safe space to process all the emotions that come up during this grieving process. Yes, I said grieving process. You’re mourning your past health and you’ll be adjusting future expectations. You’ll be learning to love yourself through the hard times and embracing the good. You’ll come to realize that not all of your friends and family will understand your physical or mental needs. You will embrace the people who do. Find your tribe- support and therapy groups are fantastic. It’s a process and Its one that you don’t have to do alone.

We have compassionate and knowledgeable counselors who are willing and able to walk with you on your journey. Call today for a free consultation and be matched with one of our counselors today, (407) 355-7378.     

Wellness and Health,

Jessica Conaway, LMHC