Depression due to illness – sorting it out in general terms

How to live with a chronic illness?

Illnesses follow a person from birth. Absolutely healthy people simply do not exist, and with age significantly increases the risk of developing chronic diseases. And there are a great many of them, from diabetes and gastritis to AIDS and chronic fatigue syndrome. And if medicine has reached unprecedented heights in treating the symptoms of these pathologies, the patient has to cope with psychological and emotional problems independently. How to live with a chronic disease and is it possible to enjoy life?

Illness is a change, and they are inevitably frightening

Why does a person more easily endure the flu, colds and other common diseases? Because he knows that they will inevitably pass and recovery will come. In the case of a chronic illness this is not expected, it will remain forever and will constantly remind of itself. This uncertainty and vagueness of prospects frightens most of all. The person understands that in any case, he will not be able to live as he wants, that he will have to adjust to his illness, change his habits, limit himself in some way, but the worst thing is not even this. Most people are discouraged by the fact that they will have to regularly go to the doctor, undergo tests, and often expensive ones.

All of this puts a strain on everyday life. Patients begin to have difficulty performing quite ordinary things and tasks. Thus, observation of a group of patients suffering from chronic fatigue showed that they perform their duties at work worse and have problems with socialization. They are also more prone to neurosis and mood disorders.

Preventing depression is the key to a successful and happy life

Constant worrying about their health, nervous tension and negative emotions are doing their dirty work, knocking out from under a person the solid ground and creating the prerequisites for depression. The more severe the symptoms and the less progress made in treatment, the more likely it is to occur. In this case, anxiety and sadness only increase, and it is important to take steps to prevent the development of undesirable consequences. Doctors say that the first two years after diagnosis are the most dangerous in terms of developing depression. Over time, the risks decrease, but the nature of the illness is important.

Individuals with cardiovascular disease “feverish” for as long as eight years. Those suffering from lung diseases and arthritis are also searching for a solution to “How to go on living?”, and the higher the age of the patient, the more depressed he or she is. Depression is frightening not only in terms of low mood and loss of interest in life. Other important aspects are also violated – diet, hygiene rules, and this already has a direct impact on the well-being of the patient, worsening his state of health. As for heart patients, depression can become a trigger for heart attack or stroke, increasing the risk of death by three to four times.

How do you keep your mind and body healthy?

Often, both the patient and his relatives do not see a way out of the situation. All of their advice to go on living is met with a wall of incomprehension, and there is nothing surprising about that. The patient feels pain and resentment, he thinks that he is not understood, because people around him do not feel what he feels. At first, he finds it impossible to continue living with such restrictions and rules. But over time, the person gets used to the new realities, and some begin to look at the disease as God’s handiwork, thanks to which their life has become much better, more interesting, more promising.

This applies both to alcoholics, who were forced to quit drinking because of chronic pancreatitis, and to HIV-positive people with hepatitis B and C. Scientists conducted research among patients with renal insufficiency, who had to constantly undergo dialysis, and found that their sense of peace, the ability to enjoy life do not differ from the satisfaction of the fate of healthy people.

Of course, this is primarily the merit of the patients themselves, their desire to live at all costs. However, much here also depends on the support of those around them – relatives and friends. When a person feels needed, his confidence in his abilities grows. And most importantly, the desire to live, make plans, and learn new things grows. In severe cases, consultation with a qualified psychologist is indicated. It is good if such a specialist will work together with the attending physician to develop the most appropriate concept for overcoming psychological and emotional problems. Then the symptoms of the underlying disease will be treated much more effectively and health will improve considerably.

Tips for people who constantly face negative symptoms

Of course, not everyone has the opportunity to visit a qualified psychologist. Most are left to drag themselves by the hair out of the abyss of despondency like Munchausen. If the patient has the ability to turn to a support group of people suffering from the same disease, he should definitely do it, psychologists advise. Here the person can get help from others like himself, and he will find a valuable and useful for himself to help others. Isolation from the outside world is not the best way out. Practice shows that a person can maintain a familiar life with some minor adjustments if he or she wants to. For example, sufferers of peptic ulcer may meet regularly with friends in a cafe, but order steamed cutlets instead of fried meat.

Sufferers from obesity and diabetes are very useful exercise, and they may well find something to their liking without the grueling workouts in the gym. Swimming, Nordic walking – there are plenty of options. Time flies quickly after work, travels, taking care of relatives, and there is no time to think about ailments. Hobby is another opportunity to relieve stress, to restore your psycho-emotional background, and just to distract. Today you can find a lot of devices for drawing, embroidery, crafts from fabric. You can buy a camera and take pictures, but wishing to tickle your nerves may pay attention to extreme sports. In general, the disease – it’s not a reason to give up on yourself, even if it’s chronic. There is always something to live for, and life itself is worth the effort.

Depression due to illness – sorting it out in general terms

Support the cancer hotline

We help everyone who calls our hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, free of charge – patients and their families, friends and acquaintances. When you call the line, you can discuss with a counselor questions such as: How to deal with your emotions and start actively fighting for your health? Whether to tell relatives, friends, colleagues about the diagnosis? How to support a sick person? Where can I find the strength to cope with the disease? Will I remain alone? Will my loved ones accept me? Why has this happened to me? What is the meaning of this trial and what is the meaning of my future life? Will I be able to cope with my illness? How do I go on with my life?

One of the deepest and often longest phases is the depression phase. I very often refer to this stage for myself as the stage of desolation. For me, depression is like a field of scorched earth where not a single spark of hope remains. Indeed, the main words with which subscribers describe their psychological state during depression are: emptiness, powerlessness, helplessness, meaninglessness. But the stage of depression is perhaps the most paradoxical phase. Its paradox lies in the fact that exactly as much as it is hard, so much it is necessary in order to move to the next level. Only by enduring and living through all of the difficult, frightening feelings and states of this phase can it be psychologically renewed.

It is not only the most difficult feelings and frightening states that I have experienced, but also the most difficult ones that I have experienced. Therefore, I will not dwell on the theoretical aspects, but go straight to the point.

Characteristic states.

Everyone knows depression, and almost everyone knows that it is the state associated with the most severe experiences. I will very briefly list the main features of the depressive state:

– Lack of vitality;

– A feeling of helplessness and powerlessness;

– Very frequent desire to cry or just lie down, hiding from everyone;

– Desire to cut off all connections with the surrounding world, friends, acquaintances;

– A very vivid awareness of the gravity of the situation. Understanding it and endless sadness from the impossibility to change anything;

– Loss of all interests. Nothing pleases, nothing enthralls.

– Strong self-pity and an acute desire to be pitied by loved ones;


At this stage, more often than not, the person stops fighting the disease. Even if the treatment continues and he does not refuse it, the internal breakdown sometimes is so strong that the person psychologically gives up.

It can also happen that a person refuses treatment. When a person does not see the point in something, all motivation is lost.

Retreat into loneliness. When depressed, people tend to withdraw “into themselves.” This is another unpleasant quality of depression, as a person deprives themselves of the support of other people. When depressed, belief in oneself is negligible, and when one refuses to communicate with other people, one loses support.

Not understanding myself and what is happening to me. When depressed, a person may very often have thoughts that what they are experiencing is some kind of aberration. I often hear from callers that their condition is abnormal, wrong. Against this background, fear and self-loathing may emerge, further exacerbating the depressive state.

Usually, when the patient is at the stage of depression, his relatives and loved ones begin to feel a sense of guilt. This is due to their inability to explain what is happening to their loved one and their inability to change the situation.

How to help yourself?

If the depressive state is very severe, you can go to your doctor and ask him to prescribe antidepressants. It is important to remember that any additional medication should always be discussed with your oncologist.

It is also important to remember that you are a living person and therefore you have the right to experience the full range of emotions that people experience, even though these feelings can be prolonged and painful. If you feel like crying – cry. Want to feel sorry for yourself – do something nice, something you’ve dreamed about for a long time, but constantly put it off.

You can and should try to talk to your loved ones. In a state where you feel that you have something abnormal, few with whom you want to communicate. What if they misunderstand? But if you try to confide in a person close to you and talk sincerely about what worries you, you can remove a heavy stone from your soul. Talking, of course, does not solve the problem and get rid of your depression, but sometimes even a little relief helps to better cope with their condition. And understanding that you are not alone can give you strength.

A simple, monotonous job or hobby can be very helpful in coping with a depressing mood. Even if you’ve never done this, you can try knitting, embroidery or macrame. To each his own. Any monotonous work in this case will be useful. The main thing is that it helps you to switch and distract.

Of course it must be remembered that, no matter how hard it may be psychologically, you should never stop the treatment process and put it off until the moment when you have a better mood. Treatment must always come first, no matter what the factors.

How to help your loved one?

At the stage of depression, the patient needs as much support as possible. A person in a state of helplessness and desolation needs to know that he is not alone.

However, it is very important to strike a balance between support and overprotective care. Ask your loved one about how he would like to see your support, so as not to do things that will only be annoying. We are all very different. And for some people support will be a good long talk, and someone just enough to sit together in the evening and quietly watch the passing cars on the street.

At a time of depression, many people have existential thoughts. One begins to think deeply about good and evil, life and death. You can try to move the conversation in the direction of spirituality and faith. This may become a good resource and allow you to support the patient in difficult times. But these conversations must also be handled carefully, with sensitivity to whether your opponent wants to talk about these topics.

The main thing in support is the recognition of the problem. It is necessary to show the person that you see his problem, understand that it exists and that you are ready to be with him to support him. Try to refrain from devaluing or forbidding remarks such as: “It’s okay for others to have worse,” “Don’t make a big deal out of it,” “Don’t cry. Don’t get upset,” “Don’t be afraid. In a state of depression, it is typical for a person to exaggerate his or her problems, but it is impossible to help to cope with the situation with such remarks. Such an approach is more repulsive than supportive.

Try to use as many supportive compliments as possible. You communicate for a long time with your loved one and know him like no one else. So you know exactly what you can remind him or what traits of his character you can emphasize in a compliment, so he listened to you.


It is at the stage of depression that the realization of the real situation comes. The person understands the magnitude of the event that has overtaken him and becomes aware of it. Awareness can be very frightening, but it is the first step to the next stage, which brings psychological liberation.

In imagery, for me the stage of depression is like a drowning person. On the approaches to this phase he is still floundering and trying to swim out, but as soon as the whole thickness of oppressive feelings covers him, he stops struggling and begins to sink deeper and deeper.

The image is pretty scary, if it weren’t for its conclusion. Any dive sooner or later ends with the drowning man reaching the bottom. It is only when he feels a solid support under his feet that he will be able to push away from it and swim to the surface for a new gulp of clean and fresh air.

The satirical writer Stanislaw Jerzy Lec said: “Just when I thought I had hit rock bottom, there was a knock from below.”

One client of mine described his state of depression as a closed hollow ball inside which he was dangling. All of his normal life before his depression was centered in the center of this huge ball. The pleasures and joys of life were there, and the depression threw him outside that center, forcing him into a viscous maelstrom. At the time, the client did not yet know that this abyss had a bottom. And when he reached it, he simply opened the door and stepped out into a new life. I asked him if he would like to push himself off the bottom and up. He said he saw no point in going back to where he got depressed from. He chose a new path.

It’s up to you to decide what to choose, how to live those days and what mood to greet the dawn with.

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