The psychological strain of chronic physical illness

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Socio-economic status has also been shown to be a strong predictor of chronic illness frequency and psychological strain concomitance. Photo: Pexels


(Michael Greenwood/ News Medical Net) — Chronic physical illness is psychologically draining to those experiencing it, and psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety are more common amongst such individuals, who are frequently required to adjust their lifestyle and aspirations to accommodate their physical ailment.

For example, the rate of affective disorders amongst the diabetic and rheumatoid arthritis patient populations is around 25% and rising to over 30% amongst cancer patients, compared to rates of only 4-8% amongst the general population.

The source of psychological strain may be directly related to the chronic physical illness, such as lung infection leading to hypoxia and low mood, or the treatment regimen intended to treat underlying chronic illness may itself induce psychological instability, where chemotherapy is more devastating than cancer, or where administered steroids result in altered mood. (…)

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