A chronic condition is a human health condition or disease that is persistent or otherwise long-lasting in its effects or a disease that comes with time. The term chronic is often applied when the course of the disease lasts for more than three months.
Having a long-term, or chronic, illness can disrupt your life in many ways. You may often be tired and in pain. Your illness might affect your appearance or your physical abilities and independence. You may not be able to work, causing financial problems. For children, chronic illnesses can be frightening, because they may not understand why this is happening to them.
These changes can cause stress, anxiety and anger. If they do, it is important to seek help. A trained counselor can help you develop strategies to regain a feeling of control. Support groups might help, too. You will find that you are not alone, and you may learn some new tips on how to cope.
Many people with these illnesses become depressed. In fact, depression is one of the most common complications of chronic illness. It’s estimated that up to one-third of people with a serious medical condition have symptoms of depression.
What Chronic Conditions Trigger Depression?
Although any illness can trigger depressed feelings, the risk of chronic illness and depression gets higher with the severity of the illness and the level of life disruption it causes. The risk of depression is generally 10-25% for women and 5-12% for men. However, people with a chronic illness face a much higher risk — between 25-33%. Risk is especially high in someone who has a history of depression.
Depression caused by chronic disease often makes the condition worse, especially if the illness causes pain and fatigue or it limits a person’s ability to interact with others. Depression can intensify pain, as well as fatigue and sluggishness. The combination of chronic illness and depression might lead you to isolate yourself, which is likely to make the depression even worse.
Research on chronic illnesses and depression indicates that depression rates are high among patients with chronic conditions:
Tips for Living With a Chronic Illness
Depression, disability, and chronic illness form a vicious cycle. Chronic medical conditions can bring on bouts of depression, which, in turn get in the way of successful treatment of the disease.