Chronic Illness and Mood

Headache

Having a serious illness and chronic disease can impact many different areas of your life. Beyond how you feel physically and any physical changes you might experience, living with a chronic illness can impact your connections with other people, which might make you feel even more isolated and alone.

 

We have therapists who are experts in supporting people with chronic illness, whether you were recently diagnosed with a chronic disease, or whether you’ve been living with an invisible illness for some time. By working in partnership with a therapist, you can round out your healthcare team and ensure that you have support for both your physical and mental health.

How Chronic Disease Impacts Mental Health

 

Some people may be surprised to learn that having a chronic illness can impact your mental health, as most chronic illness diagnoses and treatments focus on treating a person physically. However, ensuring that you’re treating your mental health is just as important as receiving care for your physical health. In fact, research shows that people with chronic illnesses are at a higher risk for developing a mental health condition, making it all the more important to protect and care for your mental health.

 

Some examples of chronic disease and illness that might impact mental health include: 

  • Cancer

  • Diabetes

  • Heart disease

  • Chronic pain

  • Epilepsy

  • Autoimmune disorders

  • HIV/AIDS

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

  • Lupus

  • Arthritis

  • Crohn's disease or IBS

 

Fears of the unknown, physical limitations, physical changes, difficulty adjusting, and feeling overwhelmed can all impact your daily functioning and psychological well-being. You might experience disbelief or struggle to see yourself as someone who’s physically disabled. You also might experience abelism, stereotypes, and/or discrimination, which can further impact your mental heath.

 

Navigating the medical system and jumping through hoops to get an official diagnosis can also raise your stress levels and impact your mental health. In addition, some medications used to treat specific chronic illnesses may have a side effect of mood disruption, such as depression or anxiety. 

 

Mental health and physical health are inextricably tied to one another. It’s important to care for your mental health and psychological health as much as you care for your physical health. 

​Coping with Chronic Disease

As you experience physical changes and complex emotions associated with your chronic illness, inadequate coping skills like isolation, denial, alcohol or drug abuse, or overeating can lead to further complications. 

What’s even more challenging is that the coping strategies you used to use before your illness might not be accessible to you anymore, either because of physical changes in your capabilities or energy levels.

One of the best ways to care for both your mental and physical health is to develop healthy coping strategies for living with a chronic disease. Some examples of healthy coping strategies include:

  • Eating a balanced diet

  • Exercising or moving your body in ways that feel good

  • Meditation or mindfulness

  • Yoga or stretching

  • Staying connected to friends or loved ones

  • Forming new connections with a support group of other people coping with chronic illness

  • Asking for help when you need it

  • Spending time in nature

  • Practice gratitude and find joy in the everyday

  • Focus on what’s within your control

 

Because of your chronic disease, you may experience physical changes or fluctuations in functioning that make some coping strategies harder than others. You don’t have to figure all of this out on your own. Working with a therapist is a great way to identify what coping strategies will be most attainable and supportive for you. Reach out to us today to begin partnering with one of our therapists.

Living With an Invisible Illness

 

On top of coping with the symptoms of a chronic disease or serious illness, you might be living with an invisible illness that is not overtly recognizable to the people around you. The pain, symptoms, and physical changes that you experience might fluctuate from day to day and may confuse those around you. You might even be the target of frustration or disbelief from others, or receive accusations that you are faking your illness for attention.

 

You deserve to have support and care in coping with chronic disease, whether you have a visible or invisible illness. A therapist can provide a place of safety and support to process your experiences, emotions, thoughts, and coping strategies. 

Caring for Someone with Chronic Illness

If you are a loved one or caregiver for someone with a chronic disease, you may also be impacted by your loved one’s illness. Caregiver burnout is all too real, and it’s not uncommon for caregivers to also experience impacts to their mental health and psychological functioning, including: 

  • Increases in stress, anxiety, and depression

  • Decreased quality of life

  • Lack of balance between caregiving and other needs

  • Shifts in family roles and responsibilities

  • Grief at your changed circumstances

  • Guilt or shame at your feelings

As a caregiver to someone with a chronic illness, you are just as deserving of care and support as your loved one. It’s crucial that you make time and space to care for your needs and mental health. 

 

Working with a therapist of your own is a great way to provide a safe space to process your stress and complex emotions. Our therapists create a shame-free environment where you can share all of your thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment. Reach out today to get started.

How We Can Help

 

Learning to live with a physical illness can be challenging to all involved, but you don’t have to do it alone. Therapy can help you develop healthy coping strategies and build emotional resilience. Therapy can also involve both the individual and the family to address concerns and provide emotional support. 

 

A therapist can help you:

  • Address unspoken fears

  • Learn healthy coping skills

  • Identify strategies to deal with limitations and physical changes

  • Express feelings regarding the illness’s impact on your life plans

  • Re-adjust expectations

  • Recognize and utilize resources and support

  • Reframe your thoughts around your illness

  • Identify ways to improve your quality of life

We’re here to support you as you navigate living with a chronic illness or caring for someone with a chronic disease. Contact us today to get started.

Our Chronic Illness Specialists

Psychiatric Nurse, MSN, RN, PMHCNS, BC

Mary Hatam

Humans are physical, mental and spiritual beings with each facet being interdependent on the other. Together, we will explore the many influences of your life on each aspect of your being and determine the best plan for you…

Chronic Illness, Grief, Life Coaching, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, Stress Management, Life Transitions

Specialties

PhD, RN, LCSW, LISW

Janet Arida

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Registered Nurse for more than 35 years. I have experience working with teens and adults experiencing stress, trauma, and other forms of adversity.

Anxiety, Chronic Illness and Mood, Grief and Loss, Stress Management, and Life Transitions, Depression, Trauma

Specialties

Clinical Social Work/Therapist, LCSW, BCD

Jennifer Strohm

We all have times when we feel like we’re on repeat, stuck, overwhelmed or stressed. I offer a safe and supportive environment to help you make positive changes in your life.

Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, Chronic Illness & Mood, Stress Management, Life Transitions, Teens

Specialties

Licensed Professional Counselor, MA, LPC

Jena Skelton

Struggle is something that I believe every single living thing experiences. It is a concept that can bring us into some of our hardest moments in life, but it also presents the opportunity to connect, grow, and learn. I believe that confronting our struggles and working through them is one of the most valuable journeys that life brings.

Anxiety, Depression, Addiction, Grief Counseling, Trauma, Chronic Illness & Mood, Stress Management, Life Transitions, Teens

Specialties

PhD, PMHCNS-BC, RN Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialist/Therapist

Kathleen Spadaro

As a psychiatric clinical nurse specialist, I offer a holistic approach to clients. You bring into therapy your physical self, feelings, thoughts and spirituality needs, all of which are accepted and supported in my practice.

Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, Chronic Illness & Mood, Stress Management, Life Transitions

Specialties

Start Healing Now