The Connection Between
Mental Health and Chronic Disease
This week we observe World Mental Health Day. October 10th is the designated day where organizations across the globe work to raise awareness and education of mental health conditions, to try and eradicate social stigma.
Chronic Illness and Mental Health
Physical and mental health are fundamentally linked. Patients living with a long-term physical condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, Chron’s Disease, or asthma, are at a higher risk of experiencing a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety.
Chronic disease patients face unique challenges every day and currently, there is no cure for their long-term conditions. Although research continues to make breakthrough discoveries, especially in the field of biologic therapies, today’s treatment options aim to lessen and manage symptoms.
Given the incurable diagnosis of these medical conditions, patients run the risk of social isolation, stigma, low self-esteem, and social discrimination if the necessary support is not available.
The National Health Council estimates that 133 million Americans live with at least one chronic disease. The number of chronic illness patients is expected to rise to 157 million by 2020, with more than half the patients having multiple conditions.
The human mind and body are affected by three main factors:
- Physiological Changes
- Emotional Processes
- Social Factors including income, support systems, and housing
A chronic illness can affect all three pathways making it far more likely for these patients to experience severe stress, anxiety, as well as depression.
Living with both a chronic disease and mental health issue makes it incredibly challenging for patients to manage their medical conditions. It also poses a challenge for treating physicians since patients with depression are more likely to miss their treatment appointments and less likely to follow the health guidelines provided by their doctors.
Symptoms of depression, extreme stress, or anxiety may follow a recent medical diagnosis. In some cases, these symptoms are relieved once the patient adjusts to their treatment. In other cases, however, symptoms of depression and anxiety may persist, even as the patient’s physical health improves.
Unfortunately, mental illness negatively impacts the patient’s quality of life. Moreover, one study revealed, a negative perception of their quality of life makes patients less likely to take an active role in their chronic condition management.
Additionally, patients may withhold depression and anxiety symptoms from their doctors, either because they don’t consider these relevant to their treatment, they hold a fear of being stigmatized, feel ashamed, or do not recognize the symptoms as being those of depression.
Having a support team in place is key to a chronic disease patient’s wellbeing, both physically and mentally. Individuals living with a chronic disease must understand that help is available. There are support and advocacy organizations that can provide valuable resources to help fight the feelings of isolation and low self-esteem.
Access to affordable and convenient biologic therapies in a familiar environment can be an intricate part of the support system made available for patients with a chronic disease. The familiarity and close physician-patient relationship provided at in-office biologic infusion suites increase patient treatment compliance and long-term disease management.
At Altus Infusion, we are proud to work with physicians across the country who, just like us, believe in a comprehensive approach to biologic treatment solutions, where the patient’s physical and mental wellbeing takes priority.
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Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. Any content regarding symptoms and possible treatment of illnesses is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Altus Infusion does not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of the information published in its blog and will not be held responsible for the content of any blog publication.
You should always consult your primary care physician for specific medical advice.