Chronic Illness And Mental Health
Research shows high rates of depression among patients with chronic illnesses. It’s best to treat them both at the same time, but that can present problems for hospitals. Dr. Radha Kambhampati is Medical Director of Behavioral Health for Baylor Health Care System. It opened facilities in Garland and Irving in 2013 to address this issue. He talks about it in this edition of Vital Signs.
Research on chronic illnesses and depression indicates that depression rates are high among patients with chronic conditions:
- Heart attack: 40%-65% experience depression
- Coronary artery disease (without heart attack): 18%-20% experience depression
- Parkinson's disease: 40% experience depression
- Multiple sclerosis: 40% experience depression
- Stroke: 10%-27% experience depression
- Cancer: 25% experience depression
- Diabetes: 25% experience depression
- Chronic pain syndrome: 30%-54% experience depression
Some tips to help you cope with chronic illness and avoid depression:
- Try not to isolate yourself. Reach out to family and friends. If you don’t have a solid support system, take steps to build one. Ask your physician or therapist for referrals to a support group and other community resources.
- Learn as much as you can about your condition. Knowledge is power when it comes to getting the best treatment available and maintaining a sense of autonomy and control.
- Make sure that you have medical support from experts you trust and can talk to openly about your ongoing questions and concerns.
- If you suspect that your medication is causing you to be depressed, consult your doctor about alternative treatments.
- If you are in chronic pain, talk with your physician about alternative pain management.
- As much as is possible, remain engaged in the activities you enjoy. Doing so will keep you connected as well as boost your self-confidence and sense of community.
- If you become depressed, don’t wait too long before seeking help. Find a therapist or counselor whom you trust.
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