You need to be aware of depression after serious illness. When a person receives a serious diagnosis, his or her life is irrevocably changed.
In fact a serious physical illness can affect every area of your life:
- And of course our overall health, both physical and mental.
I should know because this has happened to me. I lost a great deal of my eye sight due to visual impairment. You’d expect that the focus would purely be on the mechanical aspects. The loss of acuity, diminished visual field, light sensitivity, and lots of other things which if you’re visually impaired you already know about them.
However, the physical effects of vision loss are only a part of the story.
Another part, a rather large part, are the mental effects. Losing your sight can have a tremendous impact on your mental and emotional well-being.
Sadly, it seems that little attention is paid to the mental side of the equation. Particularly by are eye surgeons and consultants.
We try to ignore how we feel. Pretending its normal or we’re not feeling too bad in truth. The more difficult things are, the worse we feel mentally. The more we struggle day by day, the more down we may become.
A serious illness can make us feel sad, frightened, worried or angry. It can stop us from doing the things we need to do in our daily lives, it can put us into a panic. All sorts of things are going through our head.
We feel out of control of our lives.
Scared as we feel there is nothing that we can do.
Overcome by our loneliness, isolated from family and friends.
Unable to carry on with our work.
Dependent on Government benefits.
Sick and tired of constant visits to doctors and hospitals.
No one we feel comfortable to talk to about our problems.
Not forgetting our everyday difficulties, coping with our sight problems themselves.
Not wanting others to know how bad things are, not wanting to worry or upset them.
We don’t want to worry or upset them.
Things may be worsening as things don’t seem to be getting any better.
For me the worst part was looking at my family and wondering how I would ever be able to provide for them. Would I be able to, or will they be forced into a life of struggles and dependence?
Please share this if you think it can help others you know.
For some, the emotional impact of a serious physical illness can be so overwhelming It can make us depressed.
An estimated 29-58% of those who suffer significant vision loss have major depressive disorder within one year. People with vision loss are 2x more likely to be depressed than someone without vision loss.
How do you detect whether you’re depressed or not? There are a wide variety of potential symptoms.
- Lack of energy,
- Loss of concentration,
- No motivation,
- Unable to enjoy anything,
- Difficulties making even simple decisions,
- Losing interest in sex,
- Can’t think clearly,
- Withdrawal from others,
- Changes in eating patterns (eating more or less than usual),
- Changes in sleeping patterns (sleeping more or less than usual),
- Increase in the use of cigarettes, alcohol, or other mood-altering substances,
- Frequent feelings of sadness and bouts of crying,
- Feelings of hopelessness or despair,
- Feelings of worthlessness,
- Feelings of guilt,
- Thoughts of ending it all.
Many of these things, if happening to you, you excuse off blaming all your symptoms on the physical illness, degeneration or difficulties you’re facing. Sometimes we accuse ourselves of being lazy or feeble. You don’t realise you are depressed.
With our vision challenging us so badly we may feel our distress is understandable and therefore there is nothing that can be done about it; you might not want to go back to the doctor, who you already seem to be seeing constantly, confessing to your mental worries. You may feel that the doctors and nurses are too busy looking after your physical illness to be interested in your anxiety and depression.
Please don’t ignore the problem. Start by making an appointment to see your doctor. Fortunately, depression is a very treatable condition.
Also I want you to know that self-help strategies will help you, because it is important to stay positive, while adapting to vision loss, and all that goes along with it. That is why I’ll be offering support soon on a daily basis through my Hangout with Larry. Providing you with knowledge, tools and motivation.
But first you have to admit that you have a problem, and then make the commitment to deal with it.