COPING WITH CHRONIC ILLNESS Gabriela Cherascu M.D. Adult and Geriatric Psychiatrist Medical Director Mental Health Unit Mercy Hospital, Iowa City, IA
CHRONIC ILLNESS: What is it? To accept it or deny it? ACCEPTANCE is essential. Acceptance does not mean resignation.
ATTITUDE: Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. ~Winston Churchill If you dont like something change it; if you cant change it, change the way you think about it. ~Mary Engelbreit To be upset over what you dont have is to waste
MORE ON ATTITUDE: “I cant change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”, Jimmy Dean “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.” , Charles R. Swindoll
WHAT CAN HELP? Find ways to feel more in control (learn, plan) Take control ( be active participant in your treatment plan) Problem solve Communicate with other people Build a support network ( friends, support group) Ask for help
LEARN ABOUT YOUR ILLNESS: Learn as much as you can about your illness (read books, articles, blogs, go to support groups) Work with your providers, ask questions Learn your warning signs of illness Learn what works for you Learn how to take your treatment Help your partner/family learn about your illness Keep track of your symptoms and treatments
PLAN AND FOLLOW YOUR PLAN. - keep your appointments - take your treatment as prescribed - attend support group
SUPPORT GROUP: Join a support group - it will allow you to share your experience and learn from others. The people who have the same problem understand best what you are going through.
CROHN & COLITIS FOUNDATIONOF AMERICA (CCFA): Good resource Support In many languages Special part for kids and teens (camp)
My IBD (myibd.org) – The Foundation for Clinical Research in Inflamatory Bowel Disease
STRESS: Stress does not cause IBD, but can worsen it
STRESS REDUCTION: Exercise Relaxation techniques – different types Meditation – live in the present Develop and use other coping skills (humor, music, prayer, journaling, breathing techniques, yoga, etc.) Volunteer Socialize Faith and spirituality
SMALL ADVICE: Know where the restrooms are, situate yourself close to them Have extra garments on hand Car kit with toilet paper and a change of clothes Medical Alert Restroom Access Pass (My IBD web site) Bring the list of symptoms, of questions and the medications you take to your appointments
DO I HAVE DEPRESSION? 1/3 of people with chronic illness have depression Symptoms of depression: - feeling sad/”blue”/”down in the dumps” - poor sleep or oversleeping - decreased concentration - low energy - decreased or increased appetite - guilt - thoughts of suicide - hopelessness - crying spells out of the blue
TREATMENT OF DEPRESSION: Improves overall medical condition Increases quality of life Increases adherence to the treatment plan of the chronic illness Options of treatment: medication and/or psychotherapy (individual and group counseling), exercise, meditation
DO I HAVE ANXIETY? Many people with chronic illness have anxiety Symptoms of anxiety: - excessive fear/worry, feeling keyed up or on edge, easily fatigued, mind going blank, irritability, muscle tension disturbed sleep - attacks of panic with palpitations, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, lightheadedness, numbness
TREATMENT OF ANXIETY: Improves overall medical condition Increases quality of life Increases adherence to the treatment plan of the chronic illness Options of treatment: medication and/or psychotherapy, deep breathing, relaxation, meditation, exercise
SMOKING: DON’T SMOKE, WILL MAKE YOUR CROHN’S DISEASE WORSE – best recognized risk factor
SMOKING: HOW TO QUIT: - decide if you want to quit smoking or not - it can be hard to quit smoking, but it is doable (the more you try, the more chances you have to succeed) - find a motivation - tell somebody and reward yourself - consider tapering - nicotine replacement - should you use medication?
FOR KIDS: Ask questions Talk with your parents and doctors Don’t give in to peer pressure to drink ( interacts with your medication), smoke ( worsens your illness), or do drugs Educate your peers ( most are ignorant or lack knowledge about your illness)
FOR PARENTS: Your attitude counts a lot. Help your children understand what happens and how they can best help themselves (empower them).
BOOKS: Coping with Crohn’s Disease, by Amy Trachter and Henry Wodnicki Check Your Pride at the Door: Learning to Live with IBD, by Darryl Helems IBD: A Guide to Patients and Their Families, by Stanley H. Stein and Richard P. Rood
MORE BOOKS: Don’t Die of Embarrassment; Life after Colostomy and Other Adventures by Barbara Barrie It Takes More Than Guts: Life Changing Discoveries About Surviving and Overcoming IBD and Chronic Illness, by Phillip Van Hooser
ARTICLE: Coping with Chronic Illness – Clinical Center NIH