Being diagnosed with a chronic illness can impact your life in many ways. Along with the physical struggles, there are often emotional and relationship challenges as well. Although living with a chronic condition can be challenging, there are things you can do to help lessen some of the negative effects on other parts of your life.




What Is A Chronic Illness

A chronic illness is a condition that lasts for a long period of time, at least a year, and often cannot be cured, but can be controlled. Chronic illnesses such as asthma, cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases can have a big impact on your daily life. Managing a chronic illness can require changes to your daily routine and way of living. Chronic illnesses are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States, with nearly 50 percent of Americans living with a chronic disease.




How Does A Chronic Illness Impact Your Daily Life

Living with a chronic illness can impact your daily life in a number of ways. Managing your condition can require many doctor visits, causing you to miss work, or social engagements. Medications and treatments that are needed to manage your illness can cause unwanted side effects that can lead to fatigue and moodiness. This can make it difficult to complete your daily chores and rituals as easily as you could before the illness. You may need to rely more on family and friends for help and assistance with tasks that you could easily complete in the past. Your symptoms may be fine one day, and debilitating the next day which can cause you to feel a lack of control over your day to day existence.




How Does A Chronic Illness Impact Your Physical Health

There are many ways that a chronic illness can affect you physically. Many illnesses cause symptoms such as pain and fatigue. Being in constant pain, or experiencing fatigue makes it difficult to function effectively and enjoy your life. Sometimes the symptoms of a chronic illness can include physical disabilities and vision and hearing loss. These symptoms can greatly impact your quality of life. Necessary medications can have a number of side effects that can be hard to deal with. It can also be difficult to get quality sleep, leading to constant fatigue. You may notice that your stamina and muscle strength decrease, as a consequence of your chronic illness.

How Does A Chronic Illness Impact Your Mental Health

Chronic illnesses can have a negative impact on your mental health as well. You may experience an increase in symptoms of depression as you are no longer able to do some of the things you used to enjoy. This can lead to withdrawal and isolation which can further increase symptoms of depression. Anxiety is also common with some chronic conditions, as you may worry about having an attack, or the disease progressing. Side effects of your illness and its treatment can also exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Having a chronic illness can lead to inflammation and changes in hormones and neurotransmitters, which can increase depression and anxiety. The emotional and physical stress associated with being diagnosed with a chronic condition can lead to some struggles with your mental health.

How Does A Chronic Illness Impact Your Relationships

Having a chronic illness can cause issues in your relationships. Pain and other effects of a chronic condition can cause you to socialize less often than you used to. This can make it difficult to maintain friendships. Managing your illness can leave little time to participate in your hobbies and engage with others outside of work. Your intimate partner may need to take on more of a caregiving role, which can impact your connection and the way you view one another.  Household responsibilities can fall more to your partner, which may lead to resentment. Romantic and sexual interest can diminish because of your disease, creating distance and disconnection with your partner.

What Can Help

Although living with a chronic condition can be challenging, there are things that can help. You can focus on self-care activities such as eating healthy meals, exercising, and getting the rest you need, which can help increase your energy and decrease some of the pain and fatigue. Reach out to friends and family for help with chores and for emotional support, to ease some of your burden. Discuss your needs and limitations with your partner. Spend quality time together where the focus is on each other, not the illness. Prioritize your mental health by joining a support group to share your experiences with others that can understand. Attend therapy to address symptoms of anxiety and depression and to process the struggles involved with living with a chronic illness.

Having a chronic illness can affect your life in a number of different ways. It doesn’t just affect you physically, your mental health and relationships can also be impacted. If you are struggling with your mental health or relationship after being diagnosed with a chronic illness, therapy can help. With proper support, you can effectively manage the impact of your condition, both physically and emotionally.

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