Newly diagnosed with a chronic illness? Now What?
If you’ve just been diagnosed with a chronic health condition, you are likely feeling a wide range of emotions: terrified, relieved, confused, overwhelmed, etc. You have finally gotten an answer to what was causing the never-ending diagnostic tests and doctor’s appointments. Now a new reality of living with a chronic illness is about to begin. To meet your physical and health needs you may have lots of doctor visits, new medications, and treatments, social challenges, logistical concerns, etc. Knowing what you are dealing with is helpful, but your chronic illness may affect other areas of life besides just your physical health. Your medical condition may impact your finances, your social life, and your emotional health. It can very difficult to think beyond the physical symptoms of a chronic health condition. But, it is so important to pay attention and take care of your mental health.
When living with a chronic illness you might experience 24/7 stress
The harsh reality is that chronic health conditions usually never go away. While your symptoms may get better or go away for a while, chronic illness will always be a part of your life. All these changes can create more stress than you are used to having. When your stress is increased, your whole body is negatively affected. For example, you may notice that you are constantly checking and focusing on physical symptoms. However, this added attention can actually make symptoms worse. Stress makes all health conditions worse, including other mental health conditions like mood and anxiety disorders.
Even if you have not had any mental health struggles before, you’ve never dealt with this kind of stress. The increased stress of living with chronic illness may cause anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, and more. While managing the everyday stress of chronic illness can seem overwhelming, you can take action to decrease stress. By learning and using coping skills or by finding a trusted counselor to speak with, you can learn how to manage the stresses of day to day living with chronic illness. This can help you possibly avoid the unhealthy side effects of stress on your mental health.
You health problems may be impacting your self- esteem, and confidence
When you don’t feel great physically, it’s hard to think positively about yourself. When you are living with a chronic illness, your appearance may change. Your ability to do the tasks, jobs, or hobbies that used to define who you are can be more difficult. Frequent pain can change how you think about yourself. Patterns of thinking poorly about yourself, especially negative self-talk, can trigger or cause anxiety and other mental health conditions. When we are not meeting our usual standards for ourselves, our self-esteem and confidence can take a hit. Patterns of negative thinking can easily become part of your life. However, changing patterns of negative self-talk and criticism is possible. You can turn your thinking around and find your positive voice again with the help of a counselor who is trained in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).
It feels like your medical condition is ruling your life
Chronic health conditions are outside of anyone’s control. A new diagnosis or a flare-up of a pre-existing condition can feel like a betrayal. It might feel like you have lost control over something you thought you had already managed. When adults, or even children, lose control in one area of life, they usually try to gain control in another way. For example, they might try to make decisions for others, have rigid eating habits, and focus/obsess over small details to regain control. However, trying to wrestle some control back raises stress and can cause disappointment. Once again, negative feelings like stress and disappointment can worsen already present mental health conditions. Increasing acceptance of those things you cannot control can remove some stress that comes with chronic health conditions.
Counseling can help you regain control of your mental health
Whether you are newly diagnosed or have been dealing with a chronic illness for many years, it is important to pay attention to your emotional health. A new health diagnosis, or the daily strain of living with a chronic health condition, is very overwhelming. It’s completely normal to need some extra support in coping with a chronic illness. Therapy can help you regain control over your life and help you cope with the stress of your illness.
Begin Therapy for Chronic Illness in the Atlanta Area
If you or a loved one is looking for support in coping with your chronic illness and would like to learn how to take care of your emotional health, we can help. Please follow these simple steps to begin counseling for chronic illness at Wellview Counseling:
- Contact us to schedule an appointment,
- Meet with our caring therapists,
- Regain control of your emotional health.
Other Services offered at Wellview Counseling
In addition to chronic illness counseling, Wellview Counseling also offers a wide variety of mental health services to help you achieve emotional wellness. Wellview Counseling offers child counseling and play therapy, teen counseling, individual counseling for anxiety and depression, family therapy, postpartum anxiety and depression treatment, trauma and PTSD treatment, and positive discipline parenting support. If you are unable to come to our Atlanta, GA offices, Wellview Counseling also offers online counseling to Georgia residents.
About the Author
Emily is one of the caring therapists at Wellview Counseling. If you or your loved one is struggling to cope with a chronic health condition, Emily would be glad to help.