The Mental and Emotional Side of Chronic Illness

chronic illnessChronic illness is not an easy thing to live with. The difficulty is not just with the constant vigilance, doctors’ appointments, and health affects however. The hardest part of living with chronic illness is often the mental and emotional impact.

Just like someone who experiences a loss, a patient that receives a chronic illness diagnosis will likely go through the seven stages of grief. After all, this person is experiencing a loss of their own. They are feeling the loss of their health and of their lifestyle as they know it. This can be very difficult to process.

The Seven Stages of Grief

1.    Shock
2.    Denial
3.    Bargaining
4.    Guilt
5.    Anger
6.    Depression
7.    Acceptance

Each person will understandably have a different reaction to hearing the news of diagnosed chronic illness. Most reactions fall into one of three categories:

•    The Good: Some people take bad news really well. Bad news does spur some people into action, to live healthier. These people hear a diagnosis and it encourages them to make changes, eat healthier, exercise, and do whatever they can to extend their lives and comfort. There is very little hesitation to make the changes needed.

•    The Bad: Many people do eventually come around to acceptance and the readiness to live healthier lives, but it can take time to get there. These people often spend a long time grieving and feel depression towards their circumstances, maybe even spiraling towards completely giving up. They come around, however, and eventually make peace with the changes they need to make. These people usually aren’t 100% on board with their new lifestyle changes, and may not be quite as successful as someone who dives in head first to get better.

•    The Ugly: The most unfortunate reaction is one where the person immediately just gives up. These people have no desire to make the changes needed to help themselves, and often they refuse to make any changes. This reaction is the most unfortunate, because these people end up finding themselves a lot more uncomfortable and living shorter lives.

Dealing With the Emotional Outcome

The mental and emotional side effects of chronic illness extend past just the diagnosis, of course. Patient must deal with their illness every day of their lives, and that will have some mental and emotional impact as well. Even people who have found acceptance may still deal with negative emotions about their diagnosis.

Dealing with the emotional side effects of chronic illness does not have to be too difficult. Many people find solace with support groups, both in person and online, and through counseling. It is just as important to treat the mental and emotional side of chronic illness as it is the physical. When left untreated, depression can cause serious consequences and worsen the physical condition. For more information, check out my blog.

About Mathea

Mathea Ford, RD/LD, is the owner of Healthy Diet Menus For You, LLC. She has over 22 books on Amazon, check out her work at

Speak Your Mind