Chronic Illness and Depression — What Came First?
Posted by Catherine Morgan on March 5, 2007
picture by © brucecombs
CHRONIC ILLNESS AND DEPRESSION — What came first? – by Catherine Morgan
If you found out you had Diabetes and became depressed, the doctor would tell you that it is normal to feel depressed after a diagnosis such as this. And the doctor would be correct. Chronic illness changes your life, it is scary, it is frustrating, and yes it can also be very depressing. And, there is no shame in admitting that you are depressed, there are many things your doctor can do to help you with this problem.
Just about every person that suffers from a chronic illness will also suffer in some way with depression. If you are diagnosed with Lupus, or MS, or cancer, or any other chronic medical condition, your doctor will be totally understanding when you come to him with your feelings of depression, as he should be. And treating your depression should be an important part of the overall treatment of your illness.
It would be virtually unheard of for a doctor to suggest that a persons depression was the cause of their Lupus, or the cause of their MS, or the cause of their cancer. But, in the case of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a condition that the CDC considers to be just as devastating as these other chronic illnesses, doctors will often insist that the depression is causing the disease, and not the other way around.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a debilitating disease that occurs four times more frequently in women than in men.
So, why is it so impossible to believe that a person suffering from debilitating fatigue, weakness, and pain, could be depressed because of these symptoms? Why is it so crazy to think, that a person facing a disease process with no known cure and no beneficial treatment, might find this prognosis a bit depressing? Why is it o.k. for the medical community to assume that this chronic condition is actually caused by emotional issues? It would be unheard of for a doctor to tell a patient with cancer, that if they could cure their depression the disease would go away. But, the medical community feels it is acceptable to suggest just that to patients with CFS and FM.
By minimizing this condition in such a way, the patient with CFS is made to feel as if they are causing their illness. But, the truth is, if CFS was caused by depression, many more people would be being cured of CFS. Depression is a condition that has many successful treatments. The simple fact that no one has been cured of their CFS, with a treatment for depression, should be the end to this debate.
Unfortunately, because the medical community has been unable to find a specific lab test to diagnose this condition, they would like to continue to treat it as a condition that does not exist. A good doctor will at least say it is a diagnosis of elimination, but still, too many others will say it is not a diagnosis at all. It wasn’t too long ago that there was no clinical diagnosis for Alzheimer’s Disease either, it could not be diagnosed until after death and a brain biopsy, but people were still being diagnosed and treated for this condition, based on their symptoms. Surprisingly enough, making a diagnosis based on a person’s symptoms, was actually an acceptable means of practicing medicine up until very recently. I believe this is actually a practice that is still being taught in most medical schools to this day, although conveniently not being applied, in place of tests and scans.
The sad truth is that hundreds of thousands of people suffer with this debilitating disease, in both silence and shame; when the only people that should be feeling shame about this disease, are the doctors who refuse to accept the symptoms of their patients. What ever happened to “do no harm”? Let me suggest, that by blaming a person’s medical condition on the patient themselves, that this is tantamount to doing “harm”. Turning a blind eye on a patient because of ignorance, is actually doing harm. Just because a disease has a stupid name, doesn’t mean it is acceptable for doctors to treat the patients with this disease as if they are stupid, that would be doing harm.
All that I am suggesting, is that we all “do no harm”, to the people who are already suffering enough with a disease that is already doing enough harm. Have compassion, have a little compassion.
picture by © cloud9999
Although I fight it, it is never far from me, because it is me.
Living with chronic illnesses that ravage my body, and prevent me from being the person I have always wanted to be.
My former self sits in the shadow of these illnesses, weeping with the sad reality that there is no escape from them.
Suffering from debilitating diseases, that are virtually invisible to the outside world, but still hoping someone will see me….here in my own shadow.
But even if someone did open their eyes and see me, it would still be impossible for them to grab onto the hand of my shadow.
So I must learn to live here, living in the shadow of myself, and try to find peace.
also see: living with chronic fatigue syndrome