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Mind and Matter

Clarity . Connection . Comfort

Relationship between Chronic Illnesses and Depression 

For millions of people, chronic illnesses are facts of life. A chronic illness is one that lasts for a prolonged period and typically cannot be cured. Many people with these illnesses become depressed. In fact, depression is one of the most common complications of chronic illness. It is estimated that up to one-third of people with a serious medical condition have symptoms of depression. 

Living with a chronic illness is a challenge, and it is normal to feel grief and sadness as you come to grips with your condition and its implications. It's not hard to see the cause-and-effect relationship between chronic illness and feelings of despair and sadness. Although any illness can trigger depressed feelings, the risk of chronic illness and depression gets higher with the severity of the illness and the level of life disruption it causes.

Most often the symptoms of depression are overlooked. They assume that feeling sad is normal for someone struggling with a disease. Symptoms of depression are also often masked by other medical problems. The symptoms get treated, but not the underlying depression. A collaborative care approach that includes both mental and physical health care can improve overall health.

Research has shown that treating depression and chronic illness together can help people better manage both their depression and their chronic disease. Communicating well with your doctor or health care provider can improve your care and help you make good choices about your health.  




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