Chronic Health Conditions

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About chronic health conditions

Chronic health conditions or diseases are conditions that persist for an extended period of time. They are conditions that, unfortunately, cannot be cured, and require ongoing management.

 

Chronic health conditions are very common and become more common with age.

 

Australian research indicates that 1 in 4 adults (20%) have 1 chronic health condition.  Another 1 in 4 adults (20%) have 2 or more chronic health conditions.

 

Most of us will have to learn to live with chronic health conditions at some point.

What are some common chronic health conditions?
  • Heart disease

  • Stroke

  • Chronic pain

  • Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • Parkinson's disease

  • Gastrointestinal diseases and conditions (e.g., Crohn's, Celiac, IBS)

  • Lymphoedema

  • Rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic conditions

  • Endometriosis

  • Epilepsy

  • Cancer

  • Diabetes

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)

  • Cystic fibrosis

  • Osteoarthritis and other skeletal conditions

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

  • And many, many more.

What are the main symptoms of chronic health conditions?

People with chronic health conditions often experience three main types of symptoms:

  • Physical Symptoms - Pain, fatigue, exhaustion, muscle weakness and stiffness, tension, loss of mobility and endurance, changes in sleep, low energy levels, reduced concentration and memory difficulties.

  • Behavioural Symptoms - Avoidance of all sorts of things, withdrawal from everyday activities, reduced physical and other activity levels and an underdoing-overdoing activity cycle.

  • Thought Symptoms - Negative thoughts about ourselves, the world and the future. Doubts about our ability to cope and thoughts that we’d rather not be alive. Self-criticism, self-doubt and worry.

Research shows that poor quality of life and poor emotional wellbeing are not inevitable consequences of having a chronic health condition. Instead there is a lot of evidence that people can learn to manage chronic health conditions and to limit the impact of these conditions on their quality of life and emotional wellbeing.

 

When faced with very challenging and difficult conditions we try to work out what to do and how to deal with it. Sometimes the things we do are helpful and sometimes they are not - despite our best intentions and efforts. We think that it is essential for people to have good information about living with chronic health conditions and to learn self-management skills that others with chronic health conditions find essential to know.

Please note that it is always important for chronic health conditions to be assessed, monitored and managed by an appropriate medical health professional. Maintaining a good working relationship with a doctor is essential to the management of all chronic health conditions.

When people experience significant health conditions they often also experience feeling helplessness and hopeless, especially at their most difficult times. If you have such thoughts please contact your doctor or your local mental health team

What are the impacts of chronic health conditions?

Chronic health conditions can present multiple and significant challenges. They can have a profound impact on almost all areas of our lives. For example, they frequently require adjustment to changing physical abilities and new physical limitations. They can also require ongoing treatment and can affect our ability to work, manage simple day-to-day tasks and enjoy social activities as we may have in the past. Because of this chronic health conditions can have a big impact on people's emotional wellbeing - causing stress, anxiety, worry, low mood, sadness and depression.

Research shows that having one chronic health condition substantially increases our risk for poor emotional wellbeing, and that the risk increases with each chronic health condition we have to manage. This is very understandable given the impact chronic health conditions can have on people. However, it is also very important because we know that poor emotional wellbeing can make chronic health conditions even more difficult to manage and can have a very significant impact on our quality of life.

The good news is that there are practical self-management skills that can be used to limit the impacts of chronic health conditions on our day-to-day activities and to maintain our emotional wellbeing. Lots of research indicates that having good information and learning several key skills for managing chronic health conditions can really help.

What are the treatments for chronic pain?

All chronic health conditions are managed differently. So it is important to maintain regular contact with a doctor to regularly assess and review the management of your chronic health conditions.

 

When living with chronic health conditions, it is also crucial to learn how to manage our chronic health conditions. This can involve lots of different things including significant lifestyle and dietary changes. It also often involves learning specific skills for managing the impact of chronic health conditions on our lives and emotional wellbeing.

For further information about treatment options and assistance you can:

  1. Talk to your General Practitioner

  2. See a Psychologist, Psychiatrist or another mental health professional

  3. Or, you can find out about our eCentreClinic Courses for chronic health conditions, see here.