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The Silent Struggle: How Chronic Illness Affects Mental Well-Being

The Silent Struggle: How Chronic Illness Affects Mental Well-Being

According to WHO, mental health disorders affect 12.2% to 48.6% of people in their lifetime and 8.4% to 29.1% annually, contributing to 14% of the global illness burden measured by DALYs (Disability-adjusted life years). 

Our overall well-being depends on the harmony of our mind and body. They are strongly interconnected, and an impact on one is felt on the other. The tiniest of paper cuts can leave you irritated, and the frustration can cause you indigestion and headaches. So, it is only expected that chronic illness affects mental and physical health.  

There is enough evidence that the risk for depression is higher among those with chronic illnesses. This leads to people not taking care of themselves, which could aggravate the chronic condition. To break this vicious cycle, let's understand mental health so it can benefit both mind and body.  

Understanding the Connection 

1) Physical Manifestations of Mental Health 

Chronic illness tends to bring in physical symptoms like pain, fatigue, disruption in sleep, or loss of appetite. This physical manifestation can have a direct impact on mental health by making one feel frustrated, anxious, or even depressed.  

Physical Manifestations of Mental Health

2) Psychological Impact 

Coping with a chronic illness can take an emotional toll. Starting from feeling lonely in their struggles to feeling uncertain about the future, from struggling to match up with people around them to the challenge of managing their everyday symptoms, chronic illness can put a lot of psychological pressure on people. Understanding and addressing these psychological aspects is crucial for health management. 

Impact on Mental Health 

Chronic illness can be an emotional rollercoaster, affecting mental well-being in profound ways. 

1) Emotional Toll 

From the initial shock of diagnosis to the everyday life hindrances caused by it, chronic illness can trigger a rollercoaster of emotions, including anger, grief, helplessness, and fear. Coping with these emotions is a key aspect of preserving mental well-being. 

Emotional Toll

2) Social Isolation 

Even if one is surrounded by friends and family, one might end up feeling lonely since it is difficult for others to comprehend the challenges faced by the person with the illness. So, it is essential to ensure that the person receives social support either by educating the people around them or by connecting them with people going through similar challenges.   

3) Cognitive Challenges 

Chronic illness can sometimes bring about cognitive challenges, commonly referred to as "brain fog." This can include difficulties with memory, concentration, and decision-making. They can contribute to feelings of frustration and impact overall mental functioning. 

5 Tips to Navigate the Challenges 

1) A Holistic Approach to Healthcare 

Mental health care must be integrated with overall healthcare. A collaborative solution including medical treatment, therapy, and being a part of support groups can provide a much more effective approach for managing the different aspects of chronic illness. While it might take some time for the system to adapt, as individuals, we can ensure that our loved ones are getting the holistic care they deserve.  

ekincare champions this holistic approach by seamlessly merging medical insights, personalised wellness programs, and access to mental health professionals.  

A Holistic Approach to Healthcare

2) Open Communication 

Talk about it openly! From healthcare providers to your family members, try to have an open and honest conversation about chronic illness. Apart from feeling more connected, this will also help people understand what a person is going through and offer better support. Mental health professionals can also provide coping strategies and emotional guidance. 

3) Counselling and Support Groups 

Counselling and support groups offer a safe space to express emotions, share experiences, and receive guidance on the journey. It is crucial for people to remember that they aren't alone on this journey, at least for the sake of their mental health, and these avenues can give them that reassurance. 

4) Mind-Body Practices 

Many practices connect mind and body and increase the harmony between them, such as meditation, mindfulness, or gentle yoga. These practices can promote both relaxation and even ease symptoms or aid in healing. So, it is highly recommended that at least one such practice be followed. 

Mind-Body Practices

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5) Setting Realistic Goals 

The discovery of chronic illness often requires one to change one's life plans. While this can be frustrating and feel unfair, it is important to handle this situation from a position of acceptance. Setting realistic and achievable goals based on the limitations created by chronic illness can help maintain a sense of purpose and accomplishment while managing the challenges posed by the illness. 


The impact of chronic illness on mental health is undeniable. While this article gives you an overview of what one can expect and the possible strategies one can use to navigate the impact, everyone's experience and challenges with chronic illness will be different. What works for each person will also vary accordingly. It is through trial and error that you can find the tools that work for a person.  

By seamlessly integrating ekincare into these pivotal aspects of mental health management, individuals can access a robust support system while navigating the challenges of chronic illness. ekincare's discreet yet impactful presence ensures that mental well-being remains a central focus in the journey towards overall health. 

The key takeaway is to always approach managing chronic illness in a holistic way - both physical and mental wellness need to be given attention. 

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Nivetha Kannan

Content Writer, Silver Oak Health

Nivetha Kannan writes blogs on mental health and well-being topics for Silver Oak Health. She is a professional content writer and is passionate about the field of psychology & personal development. She writes impactful content that brings positive changes in people. Her mantra for life is to 'be curious and not judgemental'.