Certain symptoms of Crohn’s disease also happen to be signs of depression.
These crossover symptoms include the physical indicators of gastric distress that are at the center of Crohn’s, as well as several manifestations of body and mind. While Crohn’s doesn’t directly cause depression, symptoms of depression are interrelated with the disease. Crohn’s can magnify symptoms of depression, just as depression can magnify signs of Crohn’s.
Such grey areas illustrate the difficulty in correctly diagnosing these disorders, and also underscore the importance of finding a therapist who is already familiar with Crohn’s to sort out the source of your symptoms and best treat them. Your gastroenterologist can help with therapist referrals.
Top Ten Tip-offs to Depression
There are some symptoms of depression that warrant the need for therapy. However, many of these symptoms are common with the difficulties of Crohn’s disease.
We recommend you consider seeking therapy if you’re experiencing a number of these symptoms:
- lost appetite
- unintentional weight loss
- difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep
- enduring fatigue ranging from weariness to exhaustion
- trouble concentrating or memory problems
- lost of interest in former pleasures
- persistent anxiety
- irritability or even belligerence toward others
- feelings of guilt
- feeling helpless, hopeless, useless, and worthless
Among these red flags, it’s apparent that weight loss logically follows appetite loss, and that sleep loss leads to loss of energy and focus.
Forestall an inexorable domino effect by finding ways to alleviate your symptoms. Simple exercise can boost your mood with endorphins while it helps to regulate your digestion.
Coping with Moping
Sadness over one’s situation is normal in cases of chronic illness, but at some point it’s important to move forward.
You may fall prey to feeling that if you have no control over your bowels, you have no control over your life. Such despair can lead to isolation.
Avoid placing too many limitations on yourself, such as curtailing activities to the point of becoming housebound. Strive to be a participant instead of an observer.
It’s important to remember that you are much more than the sum of your symptoms, and that you always have choices, starting with how you react to your disease.
Enlarge your perception to see the big picture, in order to acknowledge the cyclical nature of your disease. Every flare-up is followed by a period of remission, so remind yourself that nothing lasts forever, and that “This too shall pass.”
When you’re feeling your worst, take steps to create things to look forward to. Do something nice for yourself every day, like indulging in various creature comforts. Dressing up, buying flowers, enjoying a movie, any of these activities can perk you up and elevate your mood.
Incremental changes can help you alter your attitude over time, making for a healthier emotional outlook. If you find yourself needing extra help, don’t hesitate to seek counseling and find out if anti-depressants are right for you.
When you’re going it alone, living with Crohn’s can be particularly enervating and feed your depressive thoughts. Always give yourself a break and allow plenty of time to regroup. Rest your weary body and mind.
Transitioning from a habit of negative thinking to a positive mindset takes time. Re-energize yourself by joining a community of Crohn’s patients. Call 888-MY-GUT-PAIN to locate a Crohn’s support group near you.
Connecting with others in a support network is vital to successfully managing Crohn’s Disease. Besides local groups that meet periodically in person, your Crohn’s community can encompass online chat rooms and bulletin boards.
Encourage yourself to reveal your concerns and feelings, and share both your struggles and your triumphs with fellow Crohn’s patients. You’ll find that giving support may make you feel just as good, if not better, as getting support, so spread it around.
Get started on building your network by joining the Crohn’s & Colitis Community for free access to a forum, personal stories, experts, resources, and other useful features at http://www.ccfacommunity.org/.