Chronic illness

Psychological support for patients with chronic conditions

Terapia Psicológica orientada a pacientes diagnosticados de enfermedades crónicas

Many patients are referred from their doctor or specialist to a psychologist as a fundamental part of their treatment. Coping with the diagnosis of a chronic disease is a very stressful event that involves great change and difficulties. On the other hand, despite the fact that a psychological origin of so-called functional disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Fibromyalgia has been defended in the past, today there is an agreement that this explanation is not satisfactory and that it is more likely they have an organic origin. From this perspective the role of psychology is not relegated, but it is clarified in what way this is key in the support of these patients.

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Elena Arzak Psicología

Psychological help leads to an improvement in the quality of life and a good management and course of the disease, so it is essential to go to specialized professionals. Within the psychological therapies, a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and third generation therapies is the best option available, always applied according to individual needs.

For all these reasons, psychological help can be needed in many aspects:

Accompaniment during the diagnostic process and in the evolution of the disease.
A professional psychologist that can listen to you judgement free can be tremendously liberating for the patients and their environments.
Facing uncertainty
From the very moment the person starts feeling bad until the final diagnose can be a long time. Moreover, during the curse of the illness there might be difficult times of great uncertainty depending on the evolution of the patient.
Overcoming grief after diagnosis
The loss of our health is something hard to accept and it can need external help. We have to learn how to say goodbye to that loss and start working in the new life awaiting.
Take the road to acceptance
Learning to manage frustration and start walking towards the acceptance can be really hard and there is no need of going through the process alone.
Changes in lifestyle
After being diagnosed you might have to establish new routines regarding your diet, exercise habits or taking meds regularly. It is also likely having to attend to medical appontments quite often.
Establishing or improving adherence to treatment
Medical treatments often require taking medications regularly, going through different tests and attending appointments with different healtcare professionals.
Adaptations in the career, finding possibilities compatible with the new situation.
Sometimes, it is needed to find new professional possibilities compatible with the new situation to promote patient's independance.
Understanding the connection between the brain and the rest of the body
Knowing why our emotional state affects the disorder, regardless of its origin it's key in our health management and in the prevention of difficulties associated with stress.
Relaxation techniques
Such as mindfulness or breathing exercises for stress management. They can help us deal with highly stressful situations we may face.
Learning and implementing effective coping strategies
Problem solving for life after diagnosis a great part of the adaptation process.
Coping with pain
Pain is a main symptom associated with some crhonic ilnesses and it has a huge impact in our quality of life. It can affect many important areas in our life and requires a succesful management.
Feeling lonely or isolated
Including patients who are limited to leave their homes. It is completely normal to feel lonely even if we're sorrounded by people and feel like nobody really understands what we're going through.
Feelings of shame and treatment of the social dimension
After the diagnose can be hard to take back our social life, talking about the disease with family, friends or coworkers or dealing with the consequences of the illness and the surgeries.
Treatment and prevention of frequently associated psychological disorders
Quite often, the difficulties of living with a chronic illness can lead to mental issues such as depression, anxiety, agoraphobia or panic disorder.
Associated eating disorders
Some conditions, in particular those that involve the digestive system, can trigger food obsessions or restrictions that can affect deeply our health.
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