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Stress With Illness

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.


Stress Today

Chronic stress occurs in people of all ages that are living with a chronic illness and certainly during this pandemic. The threat of catching COVID-19 and all the limitations placed on people has increased stress. Children have been impacted as they are not going to school. Approximately 4 in10 adults have reported symptoms of anxiety or a depressive disorder. The statistics used to be 1 in 10 people. Many people report problems with sleep, an increased use of alcohol or other substances and difficulty eating.

There are several results that are due to increased stress:

  • Changes is your appetite, sleep habits, energy and your interests
  • Increased feelings of anger, fear, worry and frustration
  • Trouble with sleep that includes nightmares
  • Worsening of a chronic health or mental health problem
  • Headaches, aching body parts, skin rashes and stomach problems
  • An increased use of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions

Stress With a Chronic Illness

Living with a chronic illness is tough for anyone, whether they are an adult or child, as you continually juggle medications, doctor appointments, your regular routine is gone. At the same time you may be dealing with stress, anxiety and body image changes, which is never easy..

The doctors are focused on your disease and the treatments regarding tests and medications. You are learning about your disease and how to cope with it on a day by day basis. Quite often there is no one to help you deal with the anxiety, stress or body image changes that are occurring along with this illness. Your family is also trying to adapt to your chronic illness and all its ramifications.


Chronic Illnesses in Teens

When an adolescent becomes ill everything is even more complicated. Adolescence alone is a stressful developmental process, even for physically healthy teens living during the pandemic. So, chronic illness occurring during adolescence further complicates the teens development.

Hospitalizations and surgeries if necessary all intensify concerns about physical appearance; it interferes with the process of gaining independence and disrupts changing relationships with parents and friends.

Adolescent development issues complicate a teen’s transition toward taking responsibility for their illness. Since teens are typically focused on any physical change occurring in their body, chronic illness intensifies their concerns. Anxiety and depression can be disabling in itself. They need encouragement to share their concerns related to their body, and they need to know what to expect from their medications and treatments.

Chronic illness often interferes with a teens comfort in becoming less dependent on parents. Parents of chronically ill adolescents are often more resistant to the adolescent's efforts to act independently.

The things you can do to help include:

  • Be involved with your adolescent's health care discussions
  • Discuss and listen to their concerns and treatment choices
  • Teaching self-care skills related to their illness
  • Encouraging them to monitor and manage their own treatment when possible
  • Help them to develop coping skills to address problems and concerns
  • Encourage them to spend time with their peers when possible

Chronic Illness and Mental Health

Stress Leads to Depression

While an adult isn’t dealing with the independence issues, their stress levels and their anxiety often leads to depression while they are learning to cope with a chronic illness. Sometimes it is difficult to differentiate between anxiety and stress versus depression. There is a Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) test administered by the top healthcare professionals that helps to answer that question about the degree of depression.

If you know of anyone having suicidal thoughts, call the suicide help line (800) 273-8255..

Dealing with the Stress of Chronic Illness

Final Thoughts

We live in a very stressful environment, particularly over the past year, and many people are dealing with greater stress and depression. Healthy living is the best way to reduce stress. If you are deeply depressed and have thoughts of suicide, please get some help. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

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The most constant thing in life is change as nothing stays the same forever, so try to keep problems in perspective. Get help when you need it! Try to do some things for fun as humor is a wonderful stress reliever. Try to relieve that stress, anxiety and the effects of body image changes with chronic illness, as the negative emotions will surely not heal you and often exacerbate your symptoms. The impact of this pandemic may have serious consequences for years to come.



Stress Poll

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.

© 2021 Pamela Oglesby


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 13, 2021:

Hi Flourish,

Your statements are so true. Stress can definitely cause damage in many ways.

I appreciate your comments. Hope you are having a good weekend.

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 13, 2021:

Stress and chronic illness can create a vicious cycle. You worry about the impact of the illness on your body, your life, your future, your family. In turn, that stress may pile on actual health damage.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 13, 2021:

Hi Chrish,

You ask some very good questions. I don't have those answers. I have learned to appreciate the little things over the years, like nature. It makes so much difference.

It sounds like you understand depression and what to do about it. Thank you so much for your comments.

Chrish Canosa from Manila Philippines on February 12, 2021:

Having a feeling of being sad is very depressive, being depressed can be very depressive - this is how it looks like whenever I'm trying to clarify what I'm into mentally and emotionally. A huge thanks for the advices!!! Despite it all acute illnesses mentally and physically the threats etc nature is kind of a cure for all its a choice to find something which can boost our spirits for beauty remains even to those who think or feel they are miserable, misfortune , dying, weak ,

Why it's hard for us to learn appreciating the sunshine and the blue sky? Life used to be as simple as that.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2021:

Hi Luis,

No one likes being shouted at, and I am sorry to hear that is happening to you. I hope everything imrproves for you.

Thank you for reading and commenting. I hope you and yorur family stay safe and healthy.

Luis G Asuncion from City of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, Philippines on February 12, 2021:

Most of the time, I am stressing myself with or without reasons. Some reasons when my supervisors caught my errors and shout at me.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2021:

Hi Denise,

Being retired and having something wonderful to do, like art, makes a big difference I think.

My biggest concern is the children also. I wonder how this childhood will affect them in the long term. Hopefully, they will recover and be fine.

Thank you for reading and commenting, Denise. It is always appreciated. I hope you stay safe and healthy.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on February 12, 2021:

I tend to be a chronic worrier anyway but staying home has relieved some of the stress I used to regularly go through. Luckily I'm retired so I can stay home without much trouble. And I'm an artist so I was working from home mostly anyway. Still, I understand that stress is a real problem and needs to addressed, especially in children and teens.



Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2021:

Hi Linda,

That is so true. I know this time is difficult for so many and I have compassion for all.

Thank you so much for your nice comments. Stay safe and healthy, Linda.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2021:

Hi Shauna,

Stress is a big factor around the world right now, and when you have a chronic illness as well, life is tough.

I very much appreciate your nice comments, as always. I appreciate your support. Stay safe and healthy!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 12, 2021:

Chronic Illness and stress can be horrible conditions. Thanks for writing about the conditions, Pamela, especially during this difficult time.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on February 12, 2021:

Stress can bring about all sorts of ailments. I don't suffer from any chronic illnesses, but I can only imagine the agony one would feel when compounded by stress.

This is an article everyone should read, whether they have a chronic illness or not. We all experience stress from time to time. Keeping it at bay is key.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2021:

Hi Devika,

I don't think many people like the new normal, and we hope the virus disappears soon.

Since we ar retired, job loss is not an issue. I know that is really hard for many people.

I appreciate your very nice comments. I hope you stay safe and healthy.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 12, 2021:

Hi Pamela99 this is a great topic and so true for how people are affected by the pandemic. Life changes, social lifestyle, the new normal and everything that is no longer the same in people's life. I am fine for now, but to those who lost their jobs,, who are often depressed this situation adds to it. You have thought of an excellent topic and information that can help people.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2021:

Hi Fran,

I guess that the danger is in not recognizing the stress sometimes. I do several things to relieve that stress.

Thank you so much for your comments. Stay healthy and safe!

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on February 12, 2021:

Pamela, thank you for such an informative article. Stress is unfortunately all around us and we need to be aware. I try and "talk" myself out of stress, take a deep breath, and think of something of joy. It isn't always easy to recognize stress, it seems to sneak upon us. Thanks again for your article.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2021:

Hi Chitrangada,

You have certainly listed many of the losses people are experiencing due to this virus. I want to increase awareness of the awful impact of stress. It is not something to be ignored.

I appreciate your comments. I hope you stay safe and healthy.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on February 12, 2021:

A well written, informative and important article Pamela.

I agree that stress related issues have increased, due to the Pandemic. Loss of lives, loss of jobs and livelihood, unable to meet relatives and friends, the uncertainties and fear, and many more reasons have given rise to more and more cases of suicides and mental health problems.

I am sure that your article will help in spreading awareness.

Thank you for sharing this well researched article.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2021:

Hi again Ann,

Children not being able to socialize has definitely taken a toll on them. Since children typically do not get very ill even when they get the virus you would think they could work our some socialization in the schools. I am not sure the lockdown is solving many problems.

I think ZOOM meetings are good and th internet helps, but it does not totally fix the problem. I guess this too will pass, but it is not easy for some in the meantime. Thanks for adding these comments, Ann. I always appreciate hearing from you.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2021:

Hi Rosina,

I wish people would not resort to suicide, as our problems come but they go away. That is life. I hope some will change their minds. It would be good to find happiness in music, books, art and especially thir faith.

Thank you so much for your comments. I hope you stay happy and healthy.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2021:

Hi Vivian,

Faith is sure making all the difference for me also. I love that Proverb's quote I am glad you and your family are doing well.

I have read 1 or 2 article by you that I thought were good, but I could not find them on my feed to comment. LOL

Thank you so much for your generous comments. Stay safe and healthy!

Ann Carr from SW England on February 12, 2021:

I meant to add that my grandchildren have all experienced stress, albeit minimal; they were upset at being away from their peers, even the two year-old who goes to pre-school a couple of times a week for a total of 8 hours. His delight at going back for one afternoon was overwhelming! He's allowed to do that despite our general lockdown, as his parents are key workers. My oldest granddaughter, at university, had gone back to be able to concentrate on her work without her siblings making a noise, but she is alone in the flat and that takes its toll too - thank heavens for the internet!!


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2021:

Hi Peggy,

I could not agree with you more. I am concerned about long term impacts, and I hope the vaccine gets around the world soon.

I hope you are doing well, and I appreciate your comments.

Rosina S Khan on February 12, 2021:

This is a very helpful article full of advice about how to handle stress or chronic illness especially in the pandemic season. Yes, suicide is on many persons' minds when they are unable to handle stress. I am glad you wrote this article because it will help many to change their minds and live a better lifestyle. I myself intend to share this article in my circle.

Thank you, Pamela, for your generous and thoughtful contribution.

Vivian Coblentz on February 12, 2021:

I am happy to report our family has remained stress-free, optimistic, healthy, and at peace during this pandemic. We put our faith and hope in Jesus, and our world stays calm in the midst of life's storms. You are so right, though, about the impacts of stress on the physical body. Proverbs 17:22 reminds us "A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones." During these stressful times, we all need to find something that makes us laugh--it really is the best medicine! Great article!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 12, 2021:

Your last sentence is so true. "The impact of this pandemic may have serious consequences for years to come." Let us pray that vaccines are widely distributed around the world so that we can resume a more normal life. Stress, as you have so well mentioned, can be a killer. Thanks for writing this article.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2021:

Hi Linda,

I have heard so much about the effects stress is having on people, and I am especially concerned about children. I hope this article may let someone identify a stressor that they didn't know about.

I appreciate you comments. Stay safe and healthy.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on February 12, 2021:

A very timely topic. Articles like this can be very helpful, letting people know they aren't alone in their feelings. Thank you for putting so much helpful information in one place.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2021:

Hi John,

I agree that the statiscial increase is disturbing. Our lifestye keeps us at home most of the time. I don't feel terribly stressed, but we always have concern for our family members.

I appreciate your comments, John. I hope you and yours stay safe and healthy.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2021:

Hi Ann,

A skin rash like you describe sounds miserable, but I am glad it is gone. I am just recovering from a week of bronchitis, but it is not COVID at least. We get our 2nd vaccine Monday.

I like the idea of singing and music as it is always uplifting in my opinion. We must look for things that take our mind off worry.

Thank you so much for your comments. Stay safe and healthy.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2021:

Hi Misbh,

I am concerned about the teens as I have read about panic attacks, depression and suicide. I hope life returns to normal soon. I pray like you.

Thank you so much for your generous comments. Stay safe and healthy.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2021:

Hi Bill,

I certainly hope Bev stays healthy. I know you are as healthy as a horse, my friend. I on the other hand have had bronchitis all week, but getting better.

Thank you so much for your comments. I hope you have a happy weekend as well.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2021:

Hi Ms Dora,

i think it true for so many. I appreciate your very nice comments. Stay safe and healthy.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on February 12, 2021:

A very good article, Pamela. You give helpful advice and information here, and I hope it is read by anyone who is dealing with stress or chronic illness. The statistics increase over the last 12 months is understandable but disturbing.

Ann Carr from SW England on February 12, 2021:

As always, great detail and superb advice here, Pamela.

I had an almost all-over skin rash some weeks ago; never had anything like that before and I'm sure that was stress related though I'm not usually bothered by stress. I'm sure it was due to Covid. Worrying about the children and grandchildren is the most stressful thing for me but they are doing well and so are we.

I find a good distraction is music and singing - just belting out the songs when they're on my iTunes! It soon brings a smile to our faces.

This is a timely hub, Pamela. Useful and encouraging.

I hope you're keeping well.


Misbah Sheikh from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on February 12, 2021:

Very informative article Pamela,

I have done my bachelor's degree in Applied Psychology and fine arts. (Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology)

Stress can lead to too many big diseases one can never think of...

Yes, during the pandemic a lot of people including teens are having anxiety, stress and panic attacks...

I always pray that may this coronavirus go away...

May God save us all, Amen!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 12, 2021:

I don't feel stress! Bev, however, does, and I worry about her. I'm giving her this excellent article. Hopefully it will help her. Thank you and Happy Weekend, my friend.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on February 12, 2021:

Many people are experiencing chronic illness plus other stresses from the Covid situation right now. It is thoughtful of you to address this topic highlighting possible consequences. Thanks for always making us aware and cautious.

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