chronic illness and mental health

receiving a diagnosis of a chronic illness can be life-altering. but rarely are patients referred to a mental health specialist as part of their treatment plan. but only 25%–50% of diabetics with depression get diagnosed and treated. “it’s a big issue,” says joseph gallo, md, mph, a professor in mental health whose research focuses on the intersection of physical and mental health. “it’s not an exaggeration to say that diabetes and depression together are a deadly combination,” says gallo. according to the cdc, 51% of parkinson’s patients, 42% of cancer patients, 27% of diabetes patients, 23% of cerebrovascular patients, 17% of cardiovascular patients, and 11% of alzheimer’s patients also have depression.

in a 2020 issue of the american journal of geriatric psychiatry, gallo explains that depression can lead to poor self-care, excess disability, and increased mortality. “it has a big effect on things like diabetes control.” according to the american diabetes association, diabetics dealing with depression show poorer glycemic control, decreased physical activity, higher obesity, and potentially more diabetes end-organ complications and impaired function. but, even if patients were to end up visiting a mental health specialist, psychologists may not have the background to understand the particular mental health challenges that come with living with chronic illness. part of the solution, says gallo, is to destigmatize depression. while there is a growing recognition of the connection between mental and physical health, effectively treating chronic illness requires a stronger integration of mental health, primary care, and specialty care services. “depression management should not be secondary to the management of ‘organic’ disease,” gallo writes in a 2017 issue of the american journal of geriatric psychiatry.

out of all the health conditions in the united states, chronic illnesses/diseases are the most prevalent, costly, and responsible for seven out of ten deaths in the united states. 4  according to the centers for disease control and prevention (cdc), major depressive disorder (mdd) is prevalent in 51% of parkinson’s patients, 42% of cancer patients, 27% of diabetes patients, 23% of cerebrovascular patients, 17% of cardiovascular patients, and 11% of alzheimer’s patients.5 not only does chronic illness/disease increase the chances of having a mental illness, but people experiencing depression are more likely to have other medical conditions.6   for those with chronic illness/disease(s), if you think you have anxiety and/or depression, it is important to contact your primary health provider for details on diagnosing and treatment. parents should be mindful of this and contact their child’s health care provider if they notice any signs of depression, anxiety, or a related disorder.7 references:  1 national center for chronic disease prevention and health promotion (nccdphp). centers for disease control and prevention. /10.3390/ijerph15030431    3 centers for disease control and prevention.

mental health and chronic diseases[infographic]. infographic: chronic health conditions and mental health. mental health and chronic diseases[infographic]. chronic illness and mental health recognizing and treating depression[infographic]. chronic illness and mental health recognizing and treating depression[infographic]. founded in 1979, adaa is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention, treatment, and cure of anxiety, depression, ocd, ptsd, and co-occurring disorders through aligning research, practice and education.

chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes may make you more likely to have or develop a mental health condition. receiving a diagnosis of a chronic illness can be life-altering. along with the day-to-day physical symptoms of the illness, emotions such and often mental illnesses and other chronic conditions co-occur. people with cancer often have depression; people with schizophrenia often have diabetes; and, .

because of the nature of chronic illnesses/diseases, whether it be increased hospitalization, excessive worry, or hormonal changes, having a mental health disorders include illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress according to the national institute of mental health (nimh), people with other chronic medical conditions have a higher risk of depression,, .

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