It should come as no surprise that chronic kidney disease, any chronic disease really, is incredibly stressful on a patient. The pain it causes, the symptoms, the medications and the hospital visits interrupt the flow of what should be a good and happy life and reduce a person to someone dependent on the kindness and mercy of others. And they may be left vulnerable in other ways; financially, as medical and medication costs rise and socially, as their illness restricts them to their homes or to medical facilities.
The physical and emotional stress can be overwhelming.
Stress comes from the perception one cannot handle the demands they are faced with. In the case of chronic kidney disease patients, the stress is about critical organs, the kidneys, shutting down and the body filling with harmful toxins. There is also the pain, sickness and fatigue.
Chronic kidney disease and other chronic illnesses may never go away. They can physically and emotionally drain a person. Emotional fatigue is the physical feeling of being tired due to the sheer stress negative emotions can cause.
There can also be small to enormous physical changes. Some diseases can leave a person looking emaciated and weak and others like chronic kidney disease require implants and frequent trips to professionals for dialysis. A person can have a diminished ability to do work and that can have severe financial repercussions, forcing them to take lower paying jobs or leaving them unable to work at all. Simple tasks at home such as cleaning or moving furniture can take much longer, if they are even doable anymore.
Then there is the stress caused by anxiety. The anxiety comes from the loss of mastery because the person has lost some or a great deal of control and they wonder with dread what is yet to come.
Chronic kidney disease and other chronic diseases change how people feel about life. It leads to frustration, anger and depression.
While scientists say there are benefits to certain kinds of stress, such as giving us focus around a deadline or escaping danger. But prolonged stress can have a terrible effect on the human body. It can cause high blood pressure, muscle pain, and the development of heart disease and other illnesses. It can damage the immune system and cause the body to produce too many hormones, cause weight gain and make blood more likely to clot. Because of these problems, it is imperative for those who suffer from chronic kidney disease and other chronic illnesses, as well as the stress they cause, to find ways to mange and lower the amount of stress they are under.
Remember, for those fighting chronic kidney disease and other diseases, you are not only doing what you have to do to get through the day, you are fighting a disease. You are giving 110%!
Methods of reduce stress include the following:
- Take action early
- Take a break from the stresses. You cannot hide from chronic kidney disease, but you can distract your mind with meaningful work or fun
- Consult your physician to develop a plan. This will help you gain a little more mastery
- Smile and laugh. Humor can distract you and the laughter releases the tension which is shown in the face
- Social support. Find people who validate you, who can understand your pain and stress
- There are various methods and this has been proven to help
- Adjust diet. A bad diet can compound the damage stress does. Consult your physician to plan this.
- Learn to re-frame beliefs. Change your thinking
- Talk to mental health care providers for coaching and possible medications if need is that great.
Be sure to check out our videos for more info about how to keep your stress levels down and your chronic kidney disease well-managed.