Living With Crohn Disease (cont.)
Sandeep Mukherjee, MD, MB, BCh
Simmy Bank, MD, MB, ChB
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
BS Anand, MD
Venkatachala Mohan, MD
IN THIS ARTICLE
Coping with Stress
Living with Crohn's disease can be stressful. For most people, the greatest stress is brought on by the unpredictable and embarrassing symptoms rather than the discomfort of the disease. Many people feel frustrated, angry, resentful, guilty, and/or depressed about their disease. These feelings are understandable, but they only increase your stress.
Reducing stress is largely a matter of adjusting expectations. Understanding the reality of your disease allows you to accept the challenges and limitations you now face. These more realistic expectations reduce frustration, disappointment, and negative feelings. Here are some tips for changing expectations - yours and those of your family and friends.
Learn everything you can about Crohn's disease and how it affects you. Understand your symptoms and what makes them better or worse. Accept that having Crohn's disease is just bad luck and not the result of anything you did or didn't do.
Get involved in managing your disease. Take control. Become a partner with your doctor and other health care team members and make decisions together. Ask questions. Understand the risks and benefits of the available treatments and why your doctor is recommending specific treatments.
Educate your family and friends about Crohn's disease and the limitations it places on you. Explain how the disease works and let them know that you sometimes won't feel well enough to carry out plans or join in spontaneous activities. They will be much more understanding and supportive if you tell them ahead of time that this might happen and why.
Seek support from others. Communicate your needs so your family and friends understand what they can do. Don't expect them to read your mind. If you want to talk about your feelings, ask for their support. If they are unable to provide it, seek support from a support group or professional mental health counselor. You can find support groups for Crohn's disease through the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.
Stay active and involved in life. Physical activity reduces stress and may help you feel better. Remain as active as you can, physically, mentally, and socially. Withdrawing from other people simply increases feelings of isolation and depression. Remaining engaged with other people helps you feel "normal."
Allow yourself the right to feel ill. Sometimes you just will not feel well enough to carry out normal activities. Accepting that and giving yourself permission to rest and cancel plans reduces guilt, anxiety, and stress. Recognize that the disease is unpredictable and that you will not always be able to forecast how you will feel on a given day.
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