Chronic illness and depression

May is mental health awareness month. Find out how to cope with depression if you have a chronic illness.

It is estimated that half of all adults in the United States are living with one or more chronic condition according to the CDC. It is also estimated that one of four adults has two or more chronic condition. A chronic illness is a condition that progresses slowly and often has no cure. However, many chronic illnesses can be managed through diet, exercise and medication.

There are many stresses associated with chronic illnesses that can stem from the long nature of the illness, treatment needs, and dealing with the daily demands of living with a chronic illness. These stresses and many others can make individuals with chronic illnesses more susceptible to depression. In fact, depression is one of the most common complications of many chronic illnesses.

According to a fact sheet published by the CDC, indicates that prevalence rates of depression are high and as follows among chronic illnesses:

  • Alzheimer’s: 11 percent
  • Cardiovascular: 17 percent
  • Cerebrovascular: 23 percent
  • Diabetes: 27 percent
  • Cancer: 42 percent
  • Parkinson’s: 51 percent

Periods of sadness and emotions of depressions can be expected as a person is dealing with a chronic illness; however, if these feelings of depression persist or the person is having difficulty sleeping, eating or the person has lost interest in activities he/she normally enjoys, then it’s time to call a healthcare professional.

Here are some tips on how to manage difficult and sad emotions, experiment to find out what works for you:

  • Exercise (walking, stretching, etc.)
  • Meditate or pray
  • Write in a journal
  • Call a friend
  • Spend quality time with friends or family
  • And don’t forget to focus on self-care

Michigan State University Extension has many programs to help individuals with their chronic disease management. Experts from Michigan State University Extension make it possible to bring communities together and to educate citizens on healthy lifestyles. 

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