Dan Lippmann LCSW. Practical, Sustainable Happiness

How Dealing with Depression Eases Pain of Chronic Illness

In Part One of this series, I discussed howchronic illness compounds the problems of diagnosing and dealing with depression.

In Part Two, I’ll explain how treating depression can make it easier to handle the challenges of chronic illness.

Why dealing with depression is worth the effort

When people are depressed, it can be difficult to convince them of the benefits of treatment. Here are some reasons why treatment is well worth the effort:

  • Some physical symptoms may improve when depression is treated. Research shows that thoughts can have a major effect on symptoms, including the perception of pain.
  • Energy and motivation increase when depression lifts, making it easier to stick to self-care routines (exercise, diet, taking medication). This can lead to a decrease in symptoms and flare-ups.

Screening and treatment options for dealing with depression

Research into the complex cause and effect relationships between chronic illness and depression is ongoing. In the meantime, those living with chronic illness, along with their family, friends and doctors need to become more aware of the symptoms of depression. Many online depression screening tests are available. These tests are not intended to provide diagnosis, but they can help identify symptoms and determine whether further evaluation by a medical or mental health professional is needed.

Antidepressant medication is one approach to treating depression. However, research has shown that alternative treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be just as, if not more, effective than medication. For some people, a combination of approaches works best.

What’s most important is that depression is acknowledged, diagnosed and treated. While there is a definite link between chronic illness and depression, they do not have to go hand in hand. There is plenty you can do to break the cycle.

In Part Three of this series about the link between chronic illness and depression, I’ll share how my client, Tricia, learned the truth about her depression and got her life back.

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