Chronic conditions and depression

There are ways to cope with depression when you have a chronic condition.

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Sixty percent of Americans have at least one chronic disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). A chronic illness is a condition that progresses slowly and often has no cure. Due to their long-term nature, chronic diseases can cause additional stress due to treatment needs and daily demands. These stressors combined with other factors can make individuals with chronic conditions more susceptible to depression. In fact, depression is one of the most common complications of many chronic diseases.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, people living with chronic conditions commonly report depressive symptoms. Nearly one in three people with chronic conditions experience depression. The most common health conditions among people who reported high depression levels were cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer, stroke and diabetes.

Periods of sadness and feelings of depression can be common when dealing with a chronic illness. However, when these feelings of depression persist or if there is difficulty sleeping, eating, a loss of interest in activities normally enjoyed or thoughts of suicide, these are serious warning signs. Contact a healthcare professional immediately.

Finding ways to cope with depression can be challenging. But many activities can improve your mood and help you manage difficult and sad emotions. Select an activity you enjoy and try it for at least a two-week period to see if it helps you feel better. If it doesn’t help, try another activity. Add activities you enjoy to this list, and ask family and friends for other suggestions.

  • Exercise (e.g., walking or stretching)
  • Meditate or pray
  • Listen to music
  • Write in a journal
  • Call a friend
  • Spend quality time with friends or family, either safely in person or virtually
  • Volunteer or do something for someone else
  • Do something nice for yourself or try self-care strategies

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension has many programs to help individuals with their chronic disease management. Experts from MSU Extension make it possible to bring communities together and to educate citizens on healthy lifestyles. 

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