Making a Mental Health Care Plan
It is as important to take care of your mental health as it is your physical health. Your emotional well-being will shift throughout your chronic illness experience. It’s common to experience periods of anxiety and difficulty adjusting, as well as hope and optimism. Here are suggestions that can help:
Acknowledge your emotions
Although it’s normal to feel down at times, signs of depression are more serious and often include no longer enjoying your favorite activities, changes to sleeping habits, feeling worthless, and/or having thoughts about suicide. If you have these feelings every day for several weeks, they may be signs of depression. Learn more about adjusting to a chronic illness, including feelings of anxiety and distress.
The 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) also has information that may help you or someone you know.
Meet with a mental health expert
Talking with friends and family may help. However, fears related to treatment, coping with distress, and issues with relationships can be difficult to talk about. Mental health experts and members of your Care Team who specialize in caring for people with chronic illness can counsel you, as well as provide strategies and relaxation techniques that are tailored to you.
Experts on your treatment team may include psychologists, social workers, mental health counselors, and psychiatrists.
Consider mind-body practices to relax
Integrative medicine practices such as biofeedback, breathing exercises, guided imagery, hypnosis, meditation, and yoga are often of special interest to people with chronic illness.
Rely on your faith or belief system
Focusing on your spiritual journey can help you to deal with tough times. While not everyone identifies with a specific faith, some people find that praying, meditating, and/or talking with a spiritual leader is helpful.
Considerations for IBD
All the above strategies are excellent options for IBD. There are several support groups specifically for people with IBD, many offered through the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.
In addition, some feelings of depression and anxiety may overlap with symptoms of your IBD (like fatigue or stomach pain, for example). If you are wondering what IBD is and what may be a mental health symptom, feel free to consult with your provider or your Care Team.
Talking to your team about your mental health is just as important as talking to them about your physical health.
Source: National Cancer Institute