How Chronic Illness Affects Mental Health

How Chronic Illness Affects Mental HealthDeveloping a chronic illness can be extremely upsetting, especially because it is an issue that will continually have a presence in an individual’s life. Not only will individuals have to constantly maintain their health because of their chronic illness, but also they may begin to suffer from the psychological effects of doing so.

The Impacts of Chronic Illness on Mental Health

In many ways, a chronic illness can begin to cause mental health issues that will eventually lead to additional problems, such as addiction. It is incredibly important that these issues get addressed prior to when problems like addiction occur; however, prevention can be difficult in the heat of the moment. Some of the many ways in which a chronic illness can impact mental health include the following:

  • Depression – A chronic illness can seriously impact an individual’s mood, especially because it can make him or her feel depressed or worried about the future. As a result, he or she might begin to struggle with depression, which can easily lead to the abuse of different substances as a method of coping.
  • Anxiety – Some chronic illnesses are deadly, which are very frightening for individuals. Knowing that their time is limited can make them feel panicked and begin suffering from anxiety. The anxiety they experience can become so powerful that they feel as though they have no choice but to drown it out with the use of drugs or alcohol.
  • Frustration – Many chronic illnesses can cause extreme pain, which can produce a great deal of emotional frustration in an individual. This frustration can manifest into mood swings, anger issues, and emotional outbursts that impact both the individual and those around him or her. This frustration can also cause substance abuse as an individual who is this wound up can easily turn to drugs or alcohol to take out frustrations.

Chronic illness can impact mental health by producing depressive symptoms, anxiety, and extreme frustration—all of which can lead to the use of drugs or alcohol.

Preventing Addiction

It is entirely understandable that chronic illness can cause issues such as those listed above; therefore, it is important to understand that there is a high likelihood of substance abuse for individuals in this position. By understanding this, individuals can work with their primary care physicians and therapists to help monitor their mental health in ways that will allow these issues to be appropriately addressed, rather than self-medicated through drugs or alcohol.

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