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How to Improve Mental Health in Chronic Illness?

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Dr. Mahnoor is a medical writer, who pen down a range of articles on the topic.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

How to Improve Mental Health in Chronic Illness?

“Mental Health Matters.’’

Chronic Illness is a broad term that defines conditions that last at least one year or more, characterized by poor quality of life and restricted daily life activities. Chronic diseases include heart diseases, cancers, and diabetes which are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. People with physical Illness are at a higher risk of developed depression and anxiety.

Physical and mental health are connected; thus, when there is a disturbance in physical health, it will also affect mental health. A human body shares connections, each part of our body is linked with another region. As the brain controls our body functions, either physical or sentimental, it will affect mental health when there is any physical illness. In the same way, mental Illness can cause physical health problems. Everyone wants to live healthy and happy, but Illness never causes happiness.

Because of physical Illness, a person can go through the following mental health issues:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Sleeplessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in the things
  • The person will feel useless

How Does Chronic Physical Illness Impact Mental Health Directly or Indirectly?

#1. Impact Through the Mechanism of Increased Stress

Chronic diseases may also impact mental health through a mechanism called “increased stress.” The physical Illness can trigger many stressors and emotions. A person may experience grief and shock after the initial diagnosis of the disease. It’s natural to feel disappointed and angry about lifestyle changes that will happen because of the disease. The person is concerned about the prognosis of the disease. Sometimes, friends and family members misunderstand patients who don’t have such experience and limitations. These feelings are normal, and no evidence of mental Illness. Still, the circumstances and associated emotions can add to the body’s level of psychological stress, which can damage when levels rise too high.

#2. Medications and Mental Health

Some people don’t go through the emotional stresses mentioned in the above section. In these cases, it is not the disease itself that increases the risk of mental illness development — but the medications used in the treatment protocol could alter the underlying mechanism because medications have adverse effects as well.

A remarkable number of medicines are known to contribute to depression, including:

Beta-blockers — People who use beta-blockers may experience high blood pressure, angina, migraines, tremors, irregular heartbeat, glaucoma, etc. Many drugs ending in “-olol” are beta-blockers, including metoprolol, propranolol, and atenolol.

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Statins — Statin is commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol. Statin is also responsible for developing depression because cholesterol in the brain helps to release neurotransmitters.

Interferon alfa — Interferon alfa is prescribed for specific life-threatening diseases like hepatitis and certain cancers like melanoma. This medication also contributes to depression and anxiety.

Opioids — Opioid pain relievers such as morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone may initially cause euphoria but can add to depression over time due to their effects on dopamine and GABA.

Anticonvulsants — drugs in this class, including Neurontin, Lyrica, and Lamictal- are prescribed to treat seizures, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, and other health conditions.

Corticosteroids — These drugs, including cortisone and prednisone, are anti-inflammatory and used to manage diseases such as lupus, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis. They may precipitate depression by their effect on serotonin levels.

Stimulants — Stimulant medicines like Ritalin may be prescribed to manage attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), fatigue, and daytime sleepiness. They alter dopamine levels, which may cause depression.

How to Improve Mental Health Through the Period of Chronic Physical Illness Disease?

A person’s mental health is affected because of physiological and emotional processes and other factors such as socioeconomic factors — for example, concerns of expenses, income, housing, etc. Physical illness results in poor mental health; as a result, mental health can worsen the physical Illness even more. So, it is crucial to improve and take care of mental health and physical health.

To keep your mental health good, you can follow some steps include:

  • As we know that many psychological problems originate as a result of Illness. If you are feeling low in energy mentally and depressed, you should share it with your most trusted person or consult with a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist will help you to catch hope and ignore the negative thought in your mind.
  • Try to keep yourself productive even during the process of Illness. You can read good, motivational, and health-related books that bring a healthy amount of knowledge and positive energy. Read about the people who cope with their diseases in a good way.
  • Don’t overthink the other things, such as income and expenses. Just believe that karma has some good plan for you.
  • Don’t lose interest in your favorite things. Watch your favorite serials or movies.
  • Don’t feel useless in any way. You can design your task according to your health condition. Do small activities that keep you happy.

Final Thought:

The improvement in mental health will have a positive impact on physical health. Because mental and physical health is connected through a cycle. Both are directly proportional to each other. Try your level best to keep your mind productively active. If you cannot handle it yourself, discuss it with your doctor.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2022 Mahnoor

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