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Thursday, June 24, 2021

This is how a psychologist helps you when you have a chronic disease

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Aakash Molpariya
Aakash started in Nov 2018 as a writer at Revyuh.com. Since joining, as writer, he is mainly responsible for Software, Science, programming, system administration and the Technology ecosystem, but due to his versatility he is used for everything possible. He writes about topics ranging from AI to hardware to games, stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. He is a trained IT systems engineer and has studied computer science. By the way, he is enthusiastic about his own small projects in game development, hardware-handicraft, digital art, gaming and music. Email: aakash (at) revyuh (dot) com

There are different health branches that come together in the same trunk: health and disease. To treat a chronic disease, we are recommended to nutritionists, physiotherapists, doctors, and nurses but have you ever been recommended to a psychologist.

These are the benefits of including a professional psychologist in the treatment of a chronic illness.

Chronic disease is an illness or condition that usually lasts 3 months or more, and may get worse over time. Chronic diseases almost always occur in older adults and are often controlled, but not cured. The most common types of chronic diseases are cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis.

Depending on the type of chronic disease and its duration, it will become more or less important to address said disease from the psychological prism. A chronic disease can be mild, without great health effects, and disappear after a few months or years.

On the other hand, it can be more serious, with symptoms that alter our lifestyle and that do not disappear, but only get worse. In both cases, we can benefit from psychological support, but in the most serious and long-lasting cases, it is almost essential to have such therapeutic support.

Emotions: intervention on the subject’s experience when facing this disease

Our thoughts evoke emotions, our emotions give rise to actions, and our actions provoke results (thoughts-emotions-actions-results). And the results depend on our actions, those actions are influenced by our emotions that depend in the first instance on emotions.

Addressing treatment from the root (thought) will produce a different path (emotion-action-results) than if those thoughts are given freely, without a conductor: the psychologist.

Management and limitation of negative emotions

Entering a loop of negative emotions due to the discomfort of the disease is a dangerous aspect that should be avoided, because if that moment comes, we may not be able to distinguish between the discomfort created by the disease itself or by our negative emotions.

The psychologist helps the subject to put those emotions on paper, and to evaluate which thoughts are adding an extra discomfort to the disease may already have on its own.

Some of those negative emotions are fear of the unknown, helplessness and frustration at “touching me,” or a decrease in self-esteem. Psychological treatment can detect which of these emotions appears, and address them professionally.

Get away from nostalgia and what if …?

Living in the past creates nostalgia and doing so in the future can cause anxiety. That is why the best time to focus in the present, thus distancing ourselves from nostalgia for how beautiful everything has been until the illness, and anxiety for an imagined future.

Once the news about the chronic disease is received, it is common to leave the present and live in the past and the future. Psychological treatment empowers to focus on the here and now, and live away from “what would have happened if …?” Or “what will happen when …? “

Prevention of the appearance of a more serious mental disorder

Knowing what I think when something happens to me is the first step towards the end result, adopting negative thoughts that alter reality can ultimately lead to disorders that aggravate chronic illness such as depression, eating disorder, etc.

The psychologist is the gardener who cares for and waters the roots from which the trunk and branches will sprout. Without that “gardener” who focuses on the roots, the trunk and branches will grow in the same way, but without control over them. It may not be a major problem, but it may be twisted and more complex to address the “from the roots” approach later.

Behavior: intervention on the behaviors of the subject that can reinforce the disease, or help to weaken it

A chronic state of anxiety and anguish can further aggravate the symptoms and effects of the disease. Just as a thought ultimately triggers a result, the psychological professional can help and invite the patient to start the chain in reverse (results-actions-emotions-thoughts).

It is the double aspect in which a thought can make us laugh, or vice versa: we can laugh first and from there evoke positive emotions and thoughts. Treatments such as laughter therapy are examples of this change in the order of the chain, and how it can help us in chronic disease.

Lifestyle according to the reality of chronic disease

Chronic illness is a reality, and we must give it the importance it deserves, but often undervalued or exaggerates it. Psychotherapy leads the subject towards the reality of the disease, giving it the importance it has, but being aware of what we can and cannot do with it.

The psychologist carries out this function both with the patient, as well as with the family and circle so that everyone coordinates in the same direction. The ultimate goal is for the patient to accept the disease and live with it, thus avoiding a continuous struggle with it.

Finding and fostering sources of enthusiasm and motivation

Locking up in yourself and in a room is totally contrary to what is recommended, but it is what can arise in the face of chronic disease. A professional who knows how to guide us towards the discovery of new experiences according to our possibilities will help us greatly.

Discovering what the patient is passionate about, and motivating them towards it can gradually change the focus from a place of grief and grief, towards the illusion and motivation to start or continue something that excites and motivates us. Always from a realistic context, without extra-motivating, since depending on the capabilities we can get to a certain point.

Images by GettyImages

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