Anxiety Disorders and Chronic Health Conditions

Reviewed Mar 2, 2017

Close

E-mail Article

Complete form to e-mail article…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

Separate multiple recipients with a comma

Close

Sign-Up For Newsletters

Complete this form to sign-up for newsletters…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

 

Summary

In addition to therapy and medications, you can take steps to make life with chronic illness meaningful and manageable. There are ways you can live your life to minimize anxiety.
 

Mental health and physical health are connected. When someone has physical health issues, it is not surprising that they also might have mental health problems. In particular, anxiety and depression are very common in people who live with chronic health conditions.

Examples of chronic health conditions

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic pain
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Asthma
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Lupus
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Hepatitis
  • Kidney disease
  • Arthritis

These are illnesses for which there is treatment; however, there is no cure. Very often, these illnesses mean living each day with many health demands. Perhaps also there’s a growing list of activities that become more difficult as a disease progresses or a condition enters a more challenging stage.

It is normal to feel fearful when facing illness. Some could argue it is expected that when living with major health stresses, there are going to be hard times emotionally. Mood issues and especially anxiety may become another challenge to tackle. Feeling unwell creates discomfort physically and emotionally. No one knows what the future holds. Wondering about the future through the eyes of someone with chronic illness is to look at fear and know you will have to one day make friends with it.

When we don’t feel well, we tend to isolate ourselves. Most mammals do this when they are sick. It is a natural response to retreat and rest. However, humans are social creatures, and also thrive from sharing burdens and being in the company of others. Times of feeling unwell can result in increasing isolation. Isolation can affect mood and how available support becomes.

Tips to decrease anxiety

There are ways to manage worried thoughts, even when they seem to be constant and overwhelming.

  1. Remember it is normal to have sadness and anxiety when managing a chronic health problem. Allow yourself some grace and practice positive self-talk.
  2. Connect with support groups, in person, or online, aimed at helping people with your health issues. Nothing feels better than another person truly understanding what you think and feel. “I get it” is powerful.
  3. Write down your fears, and create an action plan. Put all worried scenarios down on paper. Then create a brief plan for managing each one. (If this problem gets worse, these are the adjustments I will make. If this happens, these are the people I can call.)
  4. Ask your doctor all of your questions. Be sure to mention how your medical challenges are affecting your mental health. There may be professionals your doctor can refer you to. Some therapists specialize in helping people with specific illnesses.
  5. Read inspiring stories. Whether you can relate to Michael J. Fox who lives with Parkinson’s disease, Elizabeth Hasselbeck who lives with celiac disease, or Montel Williams who lives with multiple sclerosis, find someone who inspires you. Read their story. Find out how they cope with their challenges.
  6. Live one day at a time. Stay in the present moment; it is all you will ever have to manage. Live your life now. When your mind wanders into fears about the future, anxiety is taking you from the present. Come back into the present moment. Be here now. 
  7. Break big challenges into small tasks. We become overwhelmed when we think of too many things at once. Do one thing at a time, and if it creates anxiety, break it into smaller bits.
  8. If you find yourself constantly worrying, set aside a daily chunk of time for worrying. It can help contain anxiety to know that there is a specific time during which you can worry. Set a timer, and indulge your worried thoughts for a set period of time: 15 to 30 minutes is enough. By scheduling worry-time, you can reject worried thoughts throughout the day and shelve them for later.  
  9. Learn the serenity prayer. Consider what you can control and what is outside your control. Let go of anything outside your control. Embrace what you do have the power to change. Health issues may be here to stay, but grab hold of a healthy lifestyle.
  10. Practice gratitude. There are times to grieve losses, and there are times to take stock of all that is right and good. Make a daily practice of noticing what brings you happiness or satisfaction.

Anxiety is treatable. There are therapies, medications, relaxation techniques, and other ways to address it. It gets better the more you learn about it. Having a chronic medical condition is hard enough. Find a way to master your anxiety so that you can put your energy into things that matter to you.

By Rebecca Steil-Lambert, MSW, LICSW, MPH
Source: http://www.healthcentral.com/anxiety/c/157571/110222/chronic-illness; http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/complete-index.shtml
Reviewed by Maria F. Rodowski-Stanco, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

In addition to therapy and medications, you can take steps to make life with chronic illness meaningful and manageable. There are ways you can live your life to minimize anxiety.
 

Mental health and physical health are connected. When someone has physical health issues, it is not surprising that they also might have mental health problems. In particular, anxiety and depression are very common in people who live with chronic health conditions.

Examples of chronic health conditions

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic pain
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Asthma
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Lupus
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Hepatitis
  • Kidney disease
  • Arthritis

These are illnesses for which there is treatment; however, there is no cure. Very often, these illnesses mean living each day with many health demands. Perhaps also there’s a growing list of activities that become more difficult as a disease progresses or a condition enters a more challenging stage.

It is normal to feel fearful when facing illness. Some could argue it is expected that when living with major health stresses, there are going to be hard times emotionally. Mood issues and especially anxiety may become another challenge to tackle. Feeling unwell creates discomfort physically and emotionally. No one knows what the future holds. Wondering about the future through the eyes of someone with chronic illness is to look at fear and know you will have to one day make friends with it.

When we don’t feel well, we tend to isolate ourselves. Most mammals do this when they are sick. It is a natural response to retreat and rest. However, humans are social creatures, and also thrive from sharing burdens and being in the company of others. Times of feeling unwell can result in increasing isolation. Isolation can affect mood and how available support becomes.

Tips to decrease anxiety

There are ways to manage worried thoughts, even when they seem to be constant and overwhelming.

  1. Remember it is normal to have sadness and anxiety when managing a chronic health problem. Allow yourself some grace and practice positive self-talk.
  2. Connect with support groups, in person, or online, aimed at helping people with your health issues. Nothing feels better than another person truly understanding what you think and feel. “I get it” is powerful.
  3. Write down your fears, and create an action plan. Put all worried scenarios down on paper. Then create a brief plan for managing each one. (If this problem gets worse, these are the adjustments I will make. If this happens, these are the people I can call.)
  4. Ask your doctor all of your questions. Be sure to mention how your medical challenges are affecting your mental health. There may be professionals your doctor can refer you to. Some therapists specialize in helping people with specific illnesses.
  5. Read inspiring stories. Whether you can relate to Michael J. Fox who lives with Parkinson’s disease, Elizabeth Hasselbeck who lives with celiac disease, or Montel Williams who lives with multiple sclerosis, find someone who inspires you. Read their story. Find out how they cope with their challenges.
  6. Live one day at a time. Stay in the present moment; it is all you will ever have to manage. Live your life now. When your mind wanders into fears about the future, anxiety is taking you from the present. Come back into the present moment. Be here now. 
  7. Break big challenges into small tasks. We become overwhelmed when we think of too many things at once. Do one thing at a time, and if it creates anxiety, break it into smaller bits.
  8. If you find yourself constantly worrying, set aside a daily chunk of time for worrying. It can help contain anxiety to know that there is a specific time during which you can worry. Set a timer, and indulge your worried thoughts for a set period of time: 15 to 30 minutes is enough. By scheduling worry-time, you can reject worried thoughts throughout the day and shelve them for later.  
  9. Learn the serenity prayer. Consider what you can control and what is outside your control. Let go of anything outside your control. Embrace what you do have the power to change. Health issues may be here to stay, but grab hold of a healthy lifestyle.
  10. Practice gratitude. There are times to grieve losses, and there are times to take stock of all that is right and good. Make a daily practice of noticing what brings you happiness or satisfaction.

Anxiety is treatable. There are therapies, medications, relaxation techniques, and other ways to address it. It gets better the more you learn about it. Having a chronic medical condition is hard enough. Find a way to master your anxiety so that you can put your energy into things that matter to you.

By Rebecca Steil-Lambert, MSW, LICSW, MPH
Source: http://www.healthcentral.com/anxiety/c/157571/110222/chronic-illness; http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/complete-index.shtml
Reviewed by Maria F. Rodowski-Stanco, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

In addition to therapy and medications, you can take steps to make life with chronic illness meaningful and manageable. There are ways you can live your life to minimize anxiety.
 

Mental health and physical health are connected. When someone has physical health issues, it is not surprising that they also might have mental health problems. In particular, anxiety and depression are very common in people who live with chronic health conditions.

Examples of chronic health conditions

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic pain
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Asthma
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Lupus
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Hepatitis
  • Kidney disease
  • Arthritis

These are illnesses for which there is treatment; however, there is no cure. Very often, these illnesses mean living each day with many health demands. Perhaps also there’s a growing list of activities that become more difficult as a disease progresses or a condition enters a more challenging stage.

It is normal to feel fearful when facing illness. Some could argue it is expected that when living with major health stresses, there are going to be hard times emotionally. Mood issues and especially anxiety may become another challenge to tackle. Feeling unwell creates discomfort physically and emotionally. No one knows what the future holds. Wondering about the future through the eyes of someone with chronic illness is to look at fear and know you will have to one day make friends with it.

When we don’t feel well, we tend to isolate ourselves. Most mammals do this when they are sick. It is a natural response to retreat and rest. However, humans are social creatures, and also thrive from sharing burdens and being in the company of others. Times of feeling unwell can result in increasing isolation. Isolation can affect mood and how available support becomes.

Tips to decrease anxiety

There are ways to manage worried thoughts, even when they seem to be constant and overwhelming.

  1. Remember it is normal to have sadness and anxiety when managing a chronic health problem. Allow yourself some grace and practice positive self-talk.
  2. Connect with support groups, in person, or online, aimed at helping people with your health issues. Nothing feels better than another person truly understanding what you think and feel. “I get it” is powerful.
  3. Write down your fears, and create an action plan. Put all worried scenarios down on paper. Then create a brief plan for managing each one. (If this problem gets worse, these are the adjustments I will make. If this happens, these are the people I can call.)
  4. Ask your doctor all of your questions. Be sure to mention how your medical challenges are affecting your mental health. There may be professionals your doctor can refer you to. Some therapists specialize in helping people with specific illnesses.
  5. Read inspiring stories. Whether you can relate to Michael J. Fox who lives with Parkinson’s disease, Elizabeth Hasselbeck who lives with celiac disease, or Montel Williams who lives with multiple sclerosis, find someone who inspires you. Read their story. Find out how they cope with their challenges.
  6. Live one day at a time. Stay in the present moment; it is all you will ever have to manage. Live your life now. When your mind wanders into fears about the future, anxiety is taking you from the present. Come back into the present moment. Be here now. 
  7. Break big challenges into small tasks. We become overwhelmed when we think of too many things at once. Do one thing at a time, and if it creates anxiety, break it into smaller bits.
  8. If you find yourself constantly worrying, set aside a daily chunk of time for worrying. It can help contain anxiety to know that there is a specific time during which you can worry. Set a timer, and indulge your worried thoughts for a set period of time: 15 to 30 minutes is enough. By scheduling worry-time, you can reject worried thoughts throughout the day and shelve them for later.  
  9. Learn the serenity prayer. Consider what you can control and what is outside your control. Let go of anything outside your control. Embrace what you do have the power to change. Health issues may be here to stay, but grab hold of a healthy lifestyle.
  10. Practice gratitude. There are times to grieve losses, and there are times to take stock of all that is right and good. Make a daily practice of noticing what brings you happiness or satisfaction.

Anxiety is treatable. There are therapies, medications, relaxation techniques, and other ways to address it. It gets better the more you learn about it. Having a chronic medical condition is hard enough. Find a way to master your anxiety so that you can put your energy into things that matter to you.

By Rebecca Steil-Lambert, MSW, LICSW, MPH
Source: http://www.healthcentral.com/anxiety/c/157571/110222/chronic-illness; http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/complete-index.shtml
Reviewed by Maria F. Rodowski-Stanco, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

Close

  • Useful Tools

    Select a tool below

© 2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.