Chronic Illness, Chronic Pain, Mental Health

Mental Health and Chronic Illness

Chronic illness can have both physical, emotional and cognitive effects on the body and mind. Having something chronic means having symptoms for more than a few months, it can last years, even a life time. For someone with a chronic illness, it can be a real challenge to do things the average person can do. Some examples of a chronic illness are:

  • Chronic Migraine
  • Vestibular Migraine
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Chronic Pain
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • TMJ
  • Endometriosis
  • IBS
  • Lupus
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Scoliosis
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Dysthymia
  • Bipolar Effective Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Eating Disorders
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Schizophrenia

Whilst these aren’t all of the chronic illnesses, they all effect people differently. Everyone handles symptoms differently, everyone requires different treatment, and what may work for someone may not work for someone else.

Sometimes when someone has a chronic illness it can lead to other chronic illnesses. For example, if someone has been living with chronic pain for years, this may eventually lead to a mental health condition. Chronic pain can prevent people from doing things they love or would like to do, like going for a hike, going on a rollercoaster, working, spending time with loved ones, or even cleaning their house. Chronic pain or any other chronic illness can cause emotional pain within oneself, it can:

  • Cause suicidal thoughts.
  • Make people anxious to try new things.
  • Cause trouble sleeping.
  • Cause low self-esteem
  • Lower confidence levels.
  • Cause fear, for example, fear of getting hurt and increasing symptoms.
  • Disturb someone’s sex life.
  • Cause social isolation.
  • Cause someone to be dependant on others, when they would rather be independent.
  • Cause weight gain or weight loss, and depending on the person this can have a negative effect on the way someone views themselves.

If you know someone who has a chronic illness its important to acknowledge that they may be in emotional or physical pain, that they might not be able to do things with you because it might be too much for them, or they are afraid of the outcome. However, don’t be scared to ask them to come along to things, most of the time they still want to feel included. Do things that they are capable to do, have a conversation with them to see what they would enjoy doing, make them feel included, don’t shut them out.

To those of you who have a chronic illness, just know that you are not alone.

Disclaimer: This post is meant for educational and advocacy purposes. Please speak with your own medical professionals if you wish to change something with your treatment plan. This should not be substituted for medical advice.


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