Chronic Pain, Chronic Health Issues & Your Emotional Wellbeing
Many Australians are currently living with one or more chronic and complex health conditions which can cause mental health distress and impacts on quality of life. These conditions include but are not limited to:
Some of these conditions can be life-threatening, and others require ongoing management from a multidisciplinary team, including mental health support from a Clinical Psychologist.
A chronic illness diagnosis can be sudden, confronting, stressful/traumatic and can cause shock, disbelief, grief, anger, fear, worry and guilt related to the diagnosis. It can also lead to questions such as:
“How will I cope?”
“What does this mean for my future?”.
Impact of Chronic Health Issues on Mental Health
Although these feelings and questions can be normal, some individuals may notice:
- energy, sleep, appetite and substance use changes;
- social isolation or dependence;
- challenges with finances/work; and
- symptoms related to Adjustment, Anxiety or Depressive Disorders.
Some may avoid adherence to medical advice or notice a strong focus on symptoms, fear of complications, treatment or dying and frequent need for medical attention through their GP or Emergency Department.
Chronic Health Issues: The Clinical Psychologist’s Role
The role of a Clinical Psychologist in this area can be from a multi-dimensional approach. For example, a common therapy Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT therapy, has a growing body of evidence that supports its application in aiding illness management. CBT targets an individual’s unhelpful thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, which can lead to positive and lasting changes in health-related coping and wellbeing.
This approach involves identifying, reframing and challenging negative/unhelpful thought patterns and learning practical skills to change and enhance the quality of life and disease management. CBT therapy also includes tailored strategies for self-advocacy skills, problem-solving, relaxation training, and other lifestyle self-management skills.
To access psychological support, you can:
Stacey Koniw, Clinical Psychologist