The brain and the body work hand in hand. When we are experiencing chronic pain physically, our mind is in pain too, which can bring you to a deep depression. It is important to remember that there is no shame in developing depression as a result of your pain and you need to recognize it in order to get help.
Professional Mental Health Treatment for Chronic Illness Patients
If your chronic illness is causing you to develop a depression where you cannot eat, sleep, or get out of bed, you need to consider speaking to someone about this. You may be afraid to see a psychologist because of the social stigma that depression may bring, the cost, lacking the transportation or time to see someone, or limited availability of providers.
Depression has the potential to make inflammation worse. If patients knew there was a biological reason for their depression and that therapy can help reduce their symptoms, more might be willing to give therapy a try. To find a therapist who specializes in chronic illness, you can ask your doctor for a referral or find local arthritis groups in your community.
Finding a support group in your area for people with your chronic illness can make you feel less alone in your feelings. It is important to make sure that the support group has a good facilitator running it as you do not want to get discouraged by any negativity in the group or if one person is trying to control it.
Social media platforms like Facebook or Reddit are good sources to find support groups online or you may be more comfortable finding one in your area that you can attend. Having a chronic illness can make you feel lonely in that you may have to work at home and not see people as often.
Having in-person interactions with people who share your struggles can make you feel less alone and comfortable sharing. Your doctor or hospital may know a support group to refer you to.
A new study in the journal Plos One found that young students’ depression dropped significantly after cutting down on processed foods, sugar, and carbs. They tried the Mediterranean diet for three weeks.
The study had people eat a diet that had six extra servings of fruits and vegetables a week. Their depression scores were significantly lower compared to the control group that continued to eat their usual diet of processed and sugary foods and drinks.
Do Things That Make You Happy
If your depression keeps you from doing the things that you love, you will only be focusing on your pain instead of any happiness. Find something that makes you happy once a day like reading a book that you invest your time and heart in.
Bake a recipe that you have always wanted to try. Write your thoughts in a journal. Do anything that takes your mind away from the chronic pain.
Keep your mind open to what makes you happy instead of your depression making you feel like you do not have anything that provides contentment. Pain may make you feel like it has taken over everything, but meditation, mindfulness, and deep breathing can help you concentrate on what is around you.
Spend Time in Nature
Being surrounded by nature can take your negative thoughts away. Allow yourself to smell the flowers around you or hear the sound of the wind.
See the trees and the sky in its natural colors. Calming nature sounds can lower your blood pressure and levels of cortisol which calms the body’s fight-or-flight responses. Looking at the beauty around you will distract you from your negative thoughts.
Keep a Pet
It may seem like too much work to take care of a pet if you are under a lot of pain or you have less mobility. But, if you are capable of physically managing it, you can experience the emotional benefits of having someone in your life who will unconditionally love you.
Pets can help promote less stress, anxiety, depression, and will make the feelings of loneliness go away. Dogs, cats, and even birds are usually always happy and will never say no to needing a lot of attention.
Chronic illness can cause chronic fatigue, but lying too much can also lead to depression. It may be good to take a nap for about 20 minutes during the day, but too many or too long of a nap can make you feel guilty for not getting out of bed.
You should not consider resting as a punishment as you are replenishing your body. Make taking a nap more pleasant by cozying up to a warm blanket, your favorite scented candles smelling in the background, or listening to smooth music. You will feel much better once you wake up.
Speak to Someone
Bottling up your feelings will not make the pain go away, but can actually worsen it. If you are sad, let yourself be sad and have a good cry.
It may help you feel better after. Pretending everything is fine is lying to yourself and the state of your mental health.
Find a psychologist, family member, friend, co-worker, counselor, or anyone you trust with how you are feeling. By taking care of your mental health, the pain you are feeling from your chronic disease will be more bearable.
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