THE PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF HEALTH ISSUES

Health conditions may not only have a physical impact on our wellbeing, but can result in psychological experiences that can impact our ability to function.

You may be experiencing an acute health issue that has impacted your wellbeing and ability to live your life. You may be experiencing a chronic illness that has changed the ideas you had for your future.

On this page, you can find out more about how health issues may be psychologically impacting you, and what treatment options are available to help you cope with your illness.

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COVID-19 AND HEALTH ISSUES

During these uncertain times, your experience of health issues may be especially difficult.

It can be difficult to manage existing health issues during lockdown. You may have had important surgery for a hip or knee replacement delayed or cancelled, or you may have been told that you cannot receive cancer treatment for several months. You may be concerned about a health issue, but feel scared to access medical services at the GP or in hospital.

This may make you feel frustrated, helpless, and unable to relax. The uncertain nature of this pandemic may be adding to your stress, as you worry about what the future holds and what treatments will be available.

COVID-19 may have impacted your health directly. You may have previously had the coronavirus, and may be struggling with ‘long-COVID’ symptoms, including:

  • Lasting fatigue
  • Breathlessness
  • Brain fog and difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle or joint pain

These symptoms can significantly impact your ability to carry out your day-to-day activities and responsibilities. It may also feel frightening and you may worry about when you will feel back to your normal self again.

WHAT DOES STRUGGLING WITH HEALTH ISSUES FEEL LIKE?

You may feel a range of confusing emotions when coping with health issues, which can further impact your quality of life and affect your relationships with others. Below is a list of some experiences that you may be going through when struggling with health issues.

ANXIETY AND STRESS

Health issues can cause us stress and anxiety. This can include experiences such as having an increased heart rate, headaches, exhaustion, finding it hard to relax and even panic attacks.

You may also feel stressed when you think about responsibilities that you have, that may be affected by your health issues. This can include worrying about finances, work, family, and many more.

It is also normal to experience health anxiety after developing an illness. We may constantly worry about whether our health will deteriorate, or we may find ourselves constantly checking our bodies for signs of illness.

Feeling anxious about our health can lead to us isolating ourselves from others and avoiding situations where we might experience joy, in an attempt to keep ourselves safe.

ANGER

Living with an illness can lead us to feeling anger when our health issues limit us from living our lives in the way we did in the past. 

We may feel anger at the world, finding ourselves asking questions such as ‘why me?’ or ‘what did I do to deserve this?’. We may feel jealous of others who are able to experience the world in a way that we are unable to.

We may also feel anger towards ourselves. We may begin to feel hatred towards our bodies for experiencing health issues that have now taken over our lives.

Anger is a complex emotion that is often frowned upon in society, and we may feel that we have to push down feelings of anger. But when we don’t let ourselves experience anger in a safe way, this can make us feel even more angry and hurt.

INTERPERSONAL DIFFICULTIES

Sometimes our relationships with others can become affected when we are struggling with health issues.

Having an illness, whether it’s acute or chronic, can affect the dynamic in the relationship and change how connected we feel to each other.

We may feel frustrated and helpless, feeling that the people around us may not understand the difficulties we are facing. This can further affect how we communicate with others and create tension.

Having health issues can sometimes affect the power balance in a relationship. If others are looking after us, we may experience feelings of guilt and shame. This can affect our self-view and can lead to low self-worth.

GRIEF AND IDENTITY

We may experience feelings of grief and despair in response to our health issues.

As our lives change while coping with our health issues, we may feel that we have lost a part of our identity and lifestyle that is important to how we view ourselves. 

This can result in us feeling lost and hopeless, feeling that our identity has been taken away from us and we cannot find a part of ourselves.

We may find ourselves experiencing low mood, loss of motivation and difficulty concentrating. These feelings can also contribute to tiredness and exhaustion, and we may find it difficult to get out of bed.

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HEALTH ISSUES TREATMENT

Living with illness and health conditions is difficult, and it is important to seek support to help you navigate your experiences.

We offer different treatment options that can help you cope with your challenging experiences, improve your wellbeing, and find meaning and joy in life again.

COUNSELLING AND PSYCHOTHERAPY

Counselling and psychotherapy can help you understand and process your health issues, how they may be affecting your quality of life.

We want to understand what life is like for you living with your condition, and how it is affecting relationships in your life. Therapy may include:

  • Finding ways to look beyond your condition and not be defined by it
  • Adopting a proactive attitude to promote self-awareness and self-management
  • Learning how to be more attuned to your body, and how to manage the physical aspects of your condition
  • Exploring how you communicate your needs and feelings
  • Finding ways to experience mutual respect in relationships, especially with those that care for you

Our expert team of therapists can help you make sense of your experience of chronic illness, and support you in finding new ways of improving your mental health and wellbeing.

MINDHEALTH

Not only does our psychological health affect our physical health, but our nutritional health can also impact our mood, energy and stress levels. 

Our integrated MindHealth programme combines psychological and nutritional support to help you build a better relationship with your body and mind.

Nutritional support will include identifying underlying imbalances in your biochemistry, including hormones, vitamins, minerals and microbiome, and recommending personalised nutritional advice to help you reach wellness.

Learn more about health-issues

Here are some articles and blogs about health-issues

HEALTH ANXIETY SELF HELP

You may not be ready to talk to us yet, so here are some self-help strategies to help you manage health anxiety

  1. Challenge your health related worries by writing them down and replacing them with a more realistic way of thinking.
  2. Eliminate seeking constant reassurance from doctors, family or friends, or repetitively self-checking or self-diagnosing yourself.
  3. Avoid using online platforms to diagnose yourself.
  4. Join a support group, as talking about your worries will help you understand and re-evaluate your way of thinking.
  5. Follow a balanced diet that will help you stabilise your physiology and reduce stress levels.
  6. Exercise regularly, sleep more, and limit alcohol intake. This will help you alleviate the physiological symptoms of anxiety and stress that might precipitate your health anxiety.