Caring for mental health and for those living with chronic illnesses is of utmost importance for health and well-being. Chronic illness can be a risk factor for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Likewise, poor mental health can contribute to the worsening of chronic conditions. In this article we explore how mental health and chronic illness affect each other, how to recognize the signs, and what you can do to help.
Mental Health and Chronic Illness
When living with chronic illness, the physical and emotional stress that can come with managing symptoms, treatments, and medical appointments can heighten the risk risk of mental ill-health such as depression and anxiety. It is common for people who are long-term sick or disabled to experience mental health issues and depression.
On the other hand, mental illness can make chronic medical conditions worse by limiting the ability to participate in treatments and follow manage chronic condition plans. Examples include those who suffer from depression and don’t take their prescribed medications, or those with anxiety and panic attacks who don’t actively participate in physical activities that are beneficial to their overall health.
Recognizing The Signs
When it comes to understanding mental health and chronic illness, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms in both. Common signs of depression may include changes in appetite or sleeping patterns, difficulties concentrating, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, withdrawal from activities of interest, and changes in energy levels. On the other hand, signs of mental illness may include uncontrollable worry, feeling on edge, and having intrusive thoughts.
By closely monitoring yourself and others and being able to recognize the signs and symptoms, you can take steps towards addressing mental health and chronic illness and improving overall health.
Ways To Help
When it comes to helping those who experience mental health and chronic illness there are a number of simple steps to managing and improving conditions.
Changes In Diet
A healthy balanced diet with plenty of fibre, protein, and healthy fats can be beneficial to both mental and physical health. Incorporation of stress-reducing foods such as dark leafy greens, nuts, and healthy fats can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
Stress doesn’t just affect our mental health but can also weaken our immune systems, leading to illnesses. Managing stress can be as simple as going for a walk or practising mindfulness, but if stress persists, it is important to seek professional help.
Social support is key for managing both mental and physical health. Cultivating strong relationships and maintaining meaningful connections with loved ones can help us cope with difficult times. Seeking support from family and friends can also improve the recovery process, helping to manage and improve conditions.
Mental health and chronic illness are not only linked but play off each other. By being aware of the signs and symptoms associated with both mental health and physical health, we can take proactive steps towards improving our overall wellbeing. By making simple changes to our diet and lifestyle, engaging in stress-management, and seeking social support, we can begin to better manage and improve our health. In order to make sustainable changes, it is important to ask for professional help if needed.
Ultimately, both mental health and chronic illness should be taken seriously and be seen as part of the whole picture of health.
Keywords: Mental Health, Chronic Illness, Risk Factor, Anxiety, Depression, Stress Management, Diet, Social Support