What is a chronic illness?
As listed on the Center for Disease Control’s website, a chronic illness or disease is a noncommunicable illnesses that is prolonged in duration, do not resolve spontaneously, and are rarely cured completely. Meaning the impact that these diseases carry is life long, effecting not only a person’s quality of life but also the way they interact with the world depending on the disease.
How does a chronic disease affect relationships?
With Heart disease being the number one killer of Americans and 133 million adults living with a chronic illness it is just as important to recognize the effects it has on relationships.
People who suffer from chronic illness may not feel the way they used to before their diagnosis. Symptoms can impede on a person's quality of life. They may not be able to partake in things they used to enjoy. They may also have to become the person needing help instead of being the caregiver, dramatically changing the roles in their relationships with others. This can result in feelings of worthlessness, frustration, and hopelessness if the person feels as though they are being more of a burden to others.
Chronic illness doesn’t just effect the person with the disease, it effects everyone. Partners, friends and family members who are caregivers to people with chronic illnesses are six times more likely to suffer from depression. The strain of having to care for someone can cause distance, anxiety and stress in relationships.
Even though you or someone you love is living with a chronic illness, that doesn’t mean it has to negatively affect your relationships. Communication is key in all relationships but especially that of people living with a chronic illness. Talking to your loved ones about your illness and how it has had an impact on your life can help them gain an understanding on how it effects you physically as well as emotionally. It’s also important for caregivers to have a support system as well to voice their feelings around caring for someone with a chronic illness.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your situation involving chronic illness utilizing a couple and family therapist can help you gain insight, increase your awareness of the impact the illness has on yourself and others and the skill set to accommodate to changes in your life affected by chronic disease. Contact Philadelphia MFT for more information regarding services offered & visit http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/ to learn more about Heart Disease and the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Campaign.
This topic of the week was written by Alanna Gardner, MFT