Allenmore Psychological Associates remains OPEN. During this period of concern and anxiety having access to quality behavioral health care is important and our staff is dedicated to ensuring your behavioral health care needs are met. In the unlikely event that the WA Department of Health directs us to close we will notify patients via telephone on the day of their appointment (similar to our Snow Day policy). If you are an existing patient who is demonstrating symptoms associated with the coronavirus or impacted by related closures (e.g. cannot find day care due to a school closure) and need to cancel we ask that you inform our staff as soon as possible, APA will not charge you for a late cancellation.

Chronic Medical Conditions

WWhen someone is diagnosed with a chronic medical condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, or respiratory diseases, among others, it can be overwhelming. The World Health Organization defines chronic medical conditions are health problems “of long duration and generally slow progression” (WHO, 2013). While progression may vary between diagnoses, each of the conditions mentioned above, as well as many others, represent a life-long journey of managing symptoms and living with the emotional impact of the chronic medical condition. The World Health Organization further states that the diseases listed above are the leading cause of mortality in low to middle income countries, representing 63% of all deaths worldwide. According to the Center for Disease Control, 7 out of 10 deaths in the United States are due to chronic diseases.

Many of us are focused on health promotion activities including exercise, eating healthy foods, adequate rest, and working with our primary care provider (PCP) to determine the right prescriptions for our health issues. All of these factors are important to address. However, they often are not enough. Studies inform us that our mental health can determine how we feel, how we function and how much we participate in managing our chronic health conditions and collaborating with our healthcare providers.

Emotional Reactions to Chronic Medical Conditions

In the United States, many of us are fortunate enough to have access to health care to treat our physical symptoms. However, many challenges remain. There are myriad symptoms and concerns that arise when we are dealing with a chronic medical condition. First, these diagnoses can be difficult to accept, and may require us to adjust aspects of our life to accommodate treatment and changes in our lifestyle. Frequently no one in our family has ever had this chronic medical condition. We might think to ourselves:

  • My friend / co-worker has this, and he / she never seemed to change anything in their life.
  • I have lived this long and done pretty well, so why change things now?
  • These doctors don’t know me – I’m tough. I can beat this my way.
  • I’ll worry about this next month (year) after my vacation, promotion, etc…

These are all normal responses, initially, to any chronic, life-long medical condition. However, we can get stuck here, which is very dangerous if we want to have a quality of life that we can enjoy and have others’ enjoy with us. When we move past this initial denial, we often begin to experience anger and think to ourselves:

  • Why me?
  • Why now?
  • I have responsibilities – I can’t stop or cut back on my work / volunteering / caretaking activities.
  • I’m not giving up (running, mountain climbing, playing basketball, hiking, skiing) because I have this disease!

Once again, these are normal responses to a diagnosis that we were not prepared to accept. This is also a place where we can get stuck, which can greatly impact our ability to work on wellness and maintaining our quality of life. We can alternate between anger and depression. Some mourning of things lost, whether it involves modifications in our physical abilities, stamina, or energy is normal. However, when these thoughts begin to hold us hostage and keep us from enjoying the people, places, and things we enjoy we may begin to think:

  • I can’t enjoy the things I used to, or do the things I used to do!
  • Why try – I’ll never be back to the way I used to be?
  • I don’t want to act or feel like an old person!
  • Who am I if I am not in the same job, going to the same gym, involved in the same activities I was before?
  • Who wants to hang around a sick person, anyway?

According to statistics, the risk of depression for those experiencing chronic illness is 25 to 33%. When this occurs, we may experience:

  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Self-criticalness
  • Guilt
  • Blame
  • Feeling irritable or restless
  • Hopelessness
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty with concentration and/or focus
  • Memory problems
  • Thoughts of suicide

How We Can Help Individuals Cope With Chronic Medical Issues

Depression and other emotional reactions to chronic medical problems can intensify our physical symptoms and, as such, make it even more difficult to deal with our medical condition. While feelings of sadness and loss can become overwhelming, there is hope. At times like this, we cannot heal by ourselves and no one needs to suffer alone. If you, or a loved one, are struggling with depression stemming from the impact of a medical diagnosis, we can help. At Allenmore Psychological Associates (APA) we are trained to work with you to treat the symptoms of depression and other emotional reactions that accompany changes in your physical health. Building a strong, supportive relationship with your therapist allows them to help guide you from diagnosis to strategies to build your new way of living. We can employ various methods to help you move from being stuck to working on wellness, in a way that fosters acceptance and action-oriented autonomy over your disease. Our goal is to help you learn to cope in a way that empowers you to be the best you can be while living with your medical condition.

Some of the methods we employ include:
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Relaxation/Guided Imagery
  • Mindfulness
  • Working through grief and loss of our old self
  • Strength-based therapy focused on acceptance and action (ACT)

Contact APA For Help Coping With Chronic Medical Conditions

At APA, we value providing the best care to our clients and collaborating with them in a counseling process that guides, motivates and empowers them to be their best selves, even in the most difficult of life circumstances. Our diverse team of doctoral psychologists and staff ARNP offer varied talents and areas of specialization and, as such, provide options for our clients to best meet their needs. Our practice has been in the same location in Tacoma, WA for over 30 years, providing consistent care to those we serve. We strive to form a connection with you, and your primary care provider to offer an integrated approach to your health and wellness. We can be reached at (253) 752-7320. When you feel better, you live better.

Call Now ButtonCall Now