Published on March 14, 2024

The Psychological Ramifications of Chronic Illnesses

Living with a chronic illness can be like navigating a labyrinth without a clear exit—constantly confronting turns of physical discomfort and dead ends lined with emotional turmoil. It’s a journey that reshapes one’s psychological landscape, often in profound and unpredictable ways. 

The impact on mental health is substantial yet frequently overlooked amidst the focus on physical symptoms. Chronic conditions test resilience, modify perspectives on life, change how a person lives, and alter one’s self-concept. Understanding these psychological ramifications is crucial for managing the wellbeing of those embroiled in this enduring battle.

How Chronic Illness Can Affect Your Mental Health 

Chronic illness isn’t a solo act; it brings along a shadow—its impact on mental health. Below, we delve into how enduring illness can subtly, yet profoundly, shift one’s psychological state.

Depression Results From the Condition or the Treatment 

Those who suffer from chronic illnesses are more likely to have depression. Patients who have diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop depression either because of the disease itself or poor treatment. For example, it’s possible to get Ozempic-induced gastroparesis, which could exacerbate diabetic symptoms or affect the person’s general quality of life. 

Destigmatizing depression is a very important part of the equation, as many health professionals don’t know how to properly treat it. However, the short-term goal should be to speak to a mental health professional, if possible, and take care of your emotional health.

But, if you were injured due to a doctor’s or pharmaceutical company’s negligence, then it’s possible you could sue. Going this route may not completely improve your depression, but it can ensure you get compensated. This compensation can reduce your financial stress.

Depression Can Come From Denial or Isolation

When you hear life-altering news, it can be distressing. Going back to the diabetes example, diabetes causes you to change your entire lifestyle. You can’t eat the way you did before the diagnosis, and since we often connect through food, going on a diet can be isolating. 

For this and other reasons, many diabetics (and other people with chronic illnesses) won’t admit to themselves or others that they have the disease. This may cause them to not start or maintain positive lifestyle changes. While the percentage of medical denial ranges depending on the disease and the methodology of the study, estimates show denialism as high as 75% 

Many people with chronic illnesses also suffer from chronic loneliness. Depending on the illness or condition, a person may not be able to go out as often as they used to or do the activities they used to love. If you have a chronic illness, it’s very important that you find a community that has your back. Your social group can help you build a more positive and fulfilling life for yourself. 

Depression is More Likely Due to the Added Financial Burden 

In the United States, it’s estimated that its citizens owe at least $220 billion in medical debt. To make matters worse, many patients will avoid medical care if they’re uninsured to avoid debt. 

Even in countries where healthcare is more socialized, like Canada, patients often have to pay for their medication and specialized tests. However, the vast majority of countries, whether they’re socialized or not, don’t have systems in place that help their citizens pay for things like rent, mortgage payments, food, utilities, mental health therapy, and entertainment. 

And paying for entertainment is important because it provides a much-needed distraction. It’s very important for you to know that it’s okay to ask for help. If there are non-profits or government programs that can aid you, reach out to them to improve your financial health. 

In Conclusion… 

If you’re navigating the murky waters of chronic illness, remember you’re not sailing alone. There are strategies and support networks ready to be your lighthouse. Embrace the tools we’ve shared and reach out to communities who understand your journey. Let’s turn these insights into action. Take control where you can and cultivate a resilience that outshines the toughest days.

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