Therapy Can Help You Cope With Chronic Illness. Here’s How.

A woman with a chronic illness sits up in bed, forlorn, needing therapy to cope

Chronic illness can be extremely challenging. Therapy helps by providing a safe space to discuss your illnesses and learn coping skills that will improve your quality of life.

Key takeaways:

  • Almost half of Americans experience chronic illness.

  • Chronic illness is an ailment that lasts for a year or more and usually requires ongoing medical care. It can disrupt multiple areas of your life.

  • Being proactive and making lifestyle changes helps improve your quality of life.

  • Watch for signs and symptoms of chronic stress, and get professional help if necessary. There are multiple types of therapy available for people with chronic illness, including support groups, individual therapy, and couples and family therapy.

Since the pandemic started, our society has been talking about health more than ever. Almost half of Americans – 45% – have at least one chronic disease. Whether you are living with arthritis, diabetes, an autoimmune disease, heart disease, asthma, or some other form of chronic illness, there is no denying that receiving such a diagnosis is a life-changing event.

Dealing with chronic illness can be exceedingly challenging. People with chronic illnesses typically experience higher rates of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Therapy can help immensely by providing a safe space for patients to discuss their illnesses and learn coping skills that improve their quality of life. We discuss how therapy can help you cope more in-depth below.

Defining chronic illness

A chronic illness is an illness that lasts for a long time, usually one year or more. In most cases, you will need ongoing medical care. Having a chronic illness can impact your ability to care for yourself and complete your activities of daily living, such as showering, feeding yourself, or caring for your home, depending on the severity of your disease.

With an acute (short-term) illness, such as the flu or a cold, you know that you will feel lousy for a few days and then get better. With chronic illness, you may unfortunately never regain your health, even though you may have good and bad days moving forward. It's not uncommon for chronic illness to “flare” and vary in its presentation and symptoms from day to day. This can be extremely disruptive to your life.

Ways to cope with chronic illness

As with anything, it’s always better to be proactive instead of reactive. Taking early action can help you manage the stress and symptoms of your illness before it becomes overwhelming or debilitating. Making lifestyle changes can have a beneficial impact on your emotional and physical health.