Having a chronic illness is stressful, even if you manage your disease and your stress well. It is true most chronic diseases are connected with a higher chance of developing a mental health problem. Tomorrow is World Mental Health Day–and there is no better time to talk about mental health than today.
A few statistics on mental health and chronic illness
While each chronic health condition has different statistics on how it impacts mental health, here are a few key examples from the research.
Asthma increases odds of anxiety disorders and depressive disorders, and nearly doubles the risk of developing substance use disorder .
Diabetes contributes to a twofold risk in developing major depressive disorder, 14% of people with diabetes have an anxiety disorder, 28% experience “subclinical anxiety”, and 42% have “at least some anxiety symptoms”.  Feeding and eating disorders, as well as sleep-wake disorders, are also elevated in people with diabetes. 
Of people with heart disease (all types) who responded to a British Heart Foundation survey, 68% said their heart disease had affected their mental or emotional health —this does not mean all are diagnosed with a mental illness, as 40% stated they had never spoken to anyone about the emotional impact of their heart condition. 
What you can do to help yourself
Practicing stress management techniques, learning emotional coping skills for when you are struggling with or just burned out from your illness, and even speaking with a therapist can help you manage your chronic disease and deal with the emotional or psychological impacts it has. If you already have a co-existing mental health condition, know that you aren’t alone and reach out for help from both professionals and your peers. Online communities can provide a more anonymous place to seek support from people who understand.
Taking steps to minimize the anxiety or stress around your medical condition can help, such as storing items you may need in various places, such as your bag, desk, and close friend or family members’ homes, so you don’t have to worry in the event you forget to bring something. Wearing medical ID jewelry with In Case of Emergency contact information can also provide you assurance that you will be treated properly and promptly in an emergency. Medical IDs engraved with ICE followed by a name or relation and phone number can help responders or hospital staff contact your loved ones to be with you and provide details. Medical ID jewelry can lessen some of the anxiety or stress experienced about the unpredictability of living with a chronic disease.
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