The Importance of Mental Health for Chronic Disease Management

How Chronic Disease Can Affect Your Mental Health?

Life can be hard when you have a chronic condition. Your physical health may make it difficult to do everyday activities, or even think with clarity. But there is another side to chronic illness that is often overlooked—the effect it can have on your mental health. In fact, research has shown that individuals with chronic illnesses are at greater risk of developing mental health problems.

What Type of Mental Health Issues can Arise from Chronic Diseases?

Having a chronic illness can affect your mental health in a variety of ways. Common mental health issues associated with chronic diseases include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress

Depression is perhaps the most common mental health issue among those with chronic disease. It is estimated that between 10 and 25 percent of individuals with chronic illness suffer from depression. People with chronic conditions may become overwhelmed by the impact their illness has on their day-to-day lives, and this can lead to feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

Anxiety is also closely linked with chronic illness. In some cases, the fear of an impending medical emergency or worsening of symptoms can be enough to cause feelings of extreme worry. Anxiety can be further fueled by feelings of helplessness or isolation caused by the physical limitations imposed by chronic diseases. Finally, many individuals experience high levels of stress due to the physical or emotional demands of caring for a chronic illness.

What Can I Do to Minimize the Effects of Chronic Illness on Mental Health?

There are several lifestyle changes and treatments that can help minimize the effects of chronic disease on mental health. Here are some tips that can help you manage depression, anxiety, and stress:

  • Manage your expectations: It can be difficult to accept that your life won’t be the same as it was prior to your diagnosis. Try to lower your expectations of yourself, such as by breaking down tasks into small, achievable goals to help build a sense of accomplishment.
  • Stay connected: Adjusting to life with a chronic illness can be a lonely experience, so make sure to reach out to family and friends and emphasize your support system.
  • Seek professional help: Seeing a mental health professional can be a helpful way to address feelings of depression and anxiety associated with chronic illness. Treatment may include talk therapy, stress management, or even medications.
  • Exercise: Exercise has been proven to be a natural stress reliever, and the endorphins released can be a mood booster. If physical limitations restrict your ability to do a traditional exercise plan, ask your doctor about activities you can do at home to stay active.

While life with a chronic illness can be difficult at times, know that you are not alone. With the right mindset and strategies, you can stay healthy both physically and mentally.


The emotional burden of dealing with chronic illness can affect your mental health. With the right knowledge and support, however, you can reduce the stress, anxiety, and depression that come with chronic disease, and live a full and healthy life.

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