For many people who have been diagnosed with a chronic illness, life becomes synonymous to negativity and hopelessness. This is because chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease or HIV / AIDS cannot be cured completely so far, and hence, take a heavy toll on such patients, even emotionally. They often lose all purpose in life. For many, it is an uphill task to deal with certain chronic ailments, due to enormous changes in lifestyle or limitations in the patient's mobility and independence. Gradually, such patients are unable to pursue the activities they once enjoyed, which ultimately undermines their self-esteem and could lead to depression.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), depression is common in people suffering from chronic illnesses such as cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. However, the good news is that this kind of depression can be easily tackled with proper medication and care.
However, there are certain self-help strategies, which can help a person fight depression associated with a chronic physical ailment. Some of them are:
- Staying hopeful : It is important for a person fighting a chronic illness to stay strong. One should never lose hope even in the worst of situations and bravely deal with feelings of denial, anger and grief that may arise in such situations. Staying hopeful and believing that there is still a lot that can be done can help a person get rid of the resulting depression.
- Keeping oneself busy : Staying busy can greatly help in keeping negative thoughts at bay. This is important because isolating oneself can actually ruin the condition as well as exacerbate depression. Meeting new people, engaging in activities or joining social groups can provide the person with a strong support system and keep one occupied.
- Maintaining a healthy diet : Nutrition plays an important role in combating any form of mental or physical illness. When fighting a chronic health condition, one must consume nutritious food to not only ward off any negative feelings since certain foods help in boosting mood and promoting positivity but also to regain or maintain physical strength that can further boost one's mental state.
- Being positive: Staying positive is essential for successful recovery from any form of mental illness or chronic disease. Developing a positive attitude may not be easy for a person fighting a deadly disease, however, one can try to stay upbeat by adopting certain self-help techniques such breathing exercises or yoga. This helps calm the mind and redirect one's thoughts.
- Setting realistic goals : Setting achievable goals and working towards them can instill positivity. Doing so boosts self-confidence and helps one deal with any physical ailment in an effective way.
Beat the blues
While antidepressants may show some unwanted side effects, treating depression is necessary for patients battling a chronic disease. If the medication is causing harm, the patients should ask their physicians to change them. The risks associated should be weighed conscientiously before the condition deteriorates.