Dealing with chronic illness is a difficult task in life. Often those with chronic illness need to consult with a counsellor simply to cope. Counsellors may work with individuals and families on issues such as: coping with the disease or its effects, understanding the illness, accepting and managing the illness and their own feelings about it. Counsellors can also help people deal with loss or adapting to their disease or death. They may also provide emotional support, teach coping skills and set up support networks for families.
Counsellors can provide many types of treatment, from medication to exercise and from cognitive therapy to self-help strategies to managing health issues. They can treat the symptoms of chronic illness, allowing you to control symptoms and keep them under control. Some symptoms can include: pain, fatigue, dizziness, difficulty breathing, constant fatigue, or even go away for a while and then return. Understanding your illness and knowing how to control these symptoms can go a long way toward controlling the disabling effects of the illness itself.
Many people and health providers have difficulty dealing with the debilitating effects of chronic illness. There are two main categories of symptoms: depression and anxiety/mood swings. Both are incredibly disruptive to day-to-day living and can interfere with work, relationships, and physical health. A depressed or anxious person can refuse to get out of bed, lose interest in activities they used to enjoy, lose interest in taking medication or other prescribed medications that they need, exhibit erratic behavior, or engage in self-destructive behavior, such as violence or suicide attempts.
As a result, many times those who suffer from chronic illness may receive little help or support. When someone is depressed, they may skip meals, gain weight, have poor quality sleep, be unable to focus, experience panic attacks and many times become less social and negligent. They are not able to enjoy the things they used to and are often unwilling to discuss the illness, treatment and/or coping strategies with friends, co-workers and loved ones. Unfortunately, they also often withdraw from society altogether. This means that depression, anxiety and symptoms need to be dealt with effectively.
This can make it difficult for family therapists and support system members to effectively provide help. In addition, when a person loses interest in their treatment, they are unable to follow through with treatment plans. Therefore, even though a patient is receiving medical treatment, family therapy and medical professionals should also provide support. Family therapy and medical professionals can do this by connecting on a daily basis, encouraging the ill member to participate in recreational activities, keeping them actively involved in activities outside the hospital and building trust between them. This creates a support system for the family.
In addition, when a person is having a relapse and going through a very challenging period, family members should ensure they remain positive. Although the ill person may be going through a hard time, they are still a productive member of the family and need to know they have support and strength within their daily life. When they start to feel better, it is important to encourage and motivate them. Many times people who are struggling with a chronic illness are reluctant to let family members know how their life is improving. However, when they express this desire to improve, their family members should make efforts to encourage them.
Another crucial step is to develop open communication with the patient. This is so they know there are people outside of their own personal sphere who are supportive, caring and knowledgeable about their condition and their recovery. It is also essential to be aware that people outside of the medical profession can provide support, too. The ill person will also greatly benefit from regular mental, physical and emotional counseling sessions and should not be hesitant to ask for these.
Dealing with Chronic Illness may be an emotional rollercoaster. There are many times the illnesses are subtle and the person suffering may not even realize they have a problem. However, the reality is that some types of illnesses can really debilitate a person's ability to function and lead a quality life. In many cases, dealing with these illnesses is simply a matter of making lifestyle changes and receiving necessary therapy.
Steve Schafer is the founder of TheEulogyWriters and the author of hundreds of heartfelt, wonderful eulogies. He lives in Michigan and has been writing eulogies for well over thirty years. The articles in this blog are designed to help people through the process of losing loved ones and exploring issues in the aging process.
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