We’ve carefully selected these podcasts because they’re actively working to educate, inspire, and empower listeners with personal stories and high-quality information. Nominate your favorite podcast by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Seeing is believing, right? But despite our evidence-based culture, not everything is so cut-and-dried. Many people live with illnesses we cannot necessarily see — invisible illnesses.
The term invisible illness encompasses mental illnesses or disabilities like depression, bipolar disorder, and autism. It also refers to some physical diseases and conditions, such as fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis (MS), and heart disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 117 million Americans live with a chronic disease. Many of these you may not even be able to see.
And as some of the podcasts highlighted here emphasize, the assumption that someone is healthy just because they look healthy can be isolating and upsetting. That’s partly why the health and advocacy communities are working to raise awareness and foster empathy around invisible illnesses. These podcasts share valuable information and resources to support anyone affected by an invisible illness.
The Hilarious World of Depression
Robin Williams’ death sent ripples throughout America and the world. For some, it seemed impossible that someone so funny could be gripped by depression. But there are so many others living with depression. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that number to be about 300 million people around the world. They also estimate that depression causes about 800,000 suicides each year. While depression isn’t a laughing matter, many comedians do have mental health issues like depression. American Public Media’s show “The Hilarious World of Depression” shines a light on the heavy topic. Learn about the real faces of depression as a range of top comedians discuss their illness and how they’ve coped.
Invisible Not Broken
When Monica Michelle was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, she had to reinvent her professional life. She was also forced to confront social stigma and stereotypes around invisible illnesses. When using disabled parking, for instance, she received anger and accusations from others who couldn’t see her disease. So she created “Invisible Not Broken” to help educate the public and alleviate some of the isolation people with these conditions can experience. The show covers issues for a variety of invisible illnesses, addressing topics like denial and caregiving.
Out in the Open
This episode of “Out in the Open” from CBC Radio-Canada delves into the stigma and effects of living with an invisible disability, disorder, or disease. Journalist Piya Chattopadhyay investigates what it’s like to have invisible illnesses like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and eating disorders. The piece highlights the frustrations, emotional impact, symptoms, and struggles people with these disorders experience. It also illuminates what it’s like to get a diagnosis and how stigma can prevent people from getting much-needed help.
The Fertility Warriors Podcast
Many women have difficulty getting pregnant. The CDC estimates that 12 percent of American women aged 15-44 have used infertility services. Such was the case for Robyn Birkin, who ended up trying several types of fertility treatments before becoming pregnant. Birkin, who also understands what it’s like to go through a miscarriage, talks to other “fertility warriors” for tips on thriving in a painful and difficult process. Look to her podcast for tips on conception, understanding fertility treatments, and general well-being throughout your journey.
“The Curbsiders” is an internal medicine podcast hosted by board-certified internal medicine doctors. The hosts interview other specialists about a broad range of topics, from marijuana and functional medicine to heart disease. They also cover lots of invisible illnesses like dementia, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Their healthy dose of sarcasm adds a bit of levity to some serious discussions. The show is geared toward doctors and medical professionals, so they cover topics like diagnosing and treatment guidelines. However, anyone can benefit from learning more about their condition, news, and available treatments. The show may just give you lots to talk about on your next doctor’s visit.
Spoonie Pyjama Party
Natasha Lipman is no stranger to invisible illness. Lipman turned to blogging after being diagnosed with one chronic illness after another. These include Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, histamine intolerance, myalgic encephalopathy, and depression. She talks about what it’s like to be young and ambitious while living with these illnesses. Her new podcast “Spoonie Pyjama Party” is intended for other young people living with chronic illness, and it covers a range of topics from sex and relationships, to confidence to inspiration.
Diabetes Daily Grind’s Real Life Diabetes Podcast
The creators of “Diabetes Daily Grind” want to challenge your assumptions of what’s possible when it comes to living with diabetes. The podcast highlights day-to-day challenges like managing and paying for your diabetes care. It also broaches a broad range of issues, such as how diabetes impacts relationships, pregnancy, and parenting.
Revolution Health Radio
The next time you’re freaking out about any range of new health claims (like the real deal with BPA and plastics), it may be worth turning to Chris Kresser. Kresser is a self-dubbed “health detective,” and his podcast “Revolution Health Radio” is all about getting to the truth. In each episode, he promises to debunk mainstream myths about nutrition and health. Trained in alternative medicine, he believes that the latest accurate and practical information can equip you for preventing and even reversing some diseases naturally. Several episodes specifically focus on different invisible illnesses like ADHD, autism, bipolar disorder, and high cholesterol.
Rheumatology, Oxford Journals
Rheumatology is the study of musculoskeletal and systemic autoimmune (rheumatic) diseases. These diseases may impact your joints, bones, or muscles, or they may cause inflammation in other areas of the body. For an authoritative rundown of developments in the field, look no further than the interviews conducted by the British Society for Rheumatology. Several episodes of the podcast focus specifically on rheumatoid arthritis.
All in the Mind
“All in the Mind” is presented by the BBC’s Radio 4. The show addresses a wide range of mental health issues, from anxiety in children to depression to unconscious bias. It also covers social issues impacting the community, like stigma and awareness. While its focus is the U.K., anyone can benefit from the expert interviews and personal experiences, as well as stories about new research and therapies.
National MS Society
Getting an MS diagnosis can be shocking and overwhelming. The National MS Society makes it simple to find trustworthy advice to help you feel more empowered and informed. Their podcasts cover the fundamentals, including basic facts and treatments. They also discuss symptom management for things like bladder problems, sexual dysfunction, and vision issues. In addition, they address important areas about long-term living with MS, with advice on relationships, life planning, and progressive MS.
“Chronic Sex” goes beyond the common topics explored by experts, such as symptoms and mortality. The podcast instead addresses quality of life issues, like relationships, self-love, and — of course — sex. The show was created by Kirsten Schultz, who lives with several chronic invisible illnesses herself. Schultz invites activists, therapists, and other relevant speakers to talk about topics like empathy and empowerment.
The Autoimmune Wellness Project
“The Autoimmune Wellness Project” was started by two health-advocate authors, Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt. Trescott and Alt have each been diagnosed with invisible illnesses, and they’re out to revamp the way society approaches these illnesses. They believe that the best treatment for autoimmune problems comes from embracing a combination of conventional and natural medicines. Specifically, they advocate eating the autoimmune paleo diet as a way to heal your body. Check out their bonus episodes for discussions and guides for thyroid and other specific conditions.
We Will Beat IBD
The CDC estimates that about 3 million American adults have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD typically refers to two conditions: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The “We Will Beat IBD podcast” explores how patients and families can cope with the daily challenges of IBD. Host Brian Greenberg interviews members of the community about areas like dating, relationships, and treatment. They also discuss how you can engage in everyday activities with an ostomy.