Living with a chronic illness and depression

Living with a chronic illness, such as diabetes or Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), can change your life in many ways. Not only are you trying to manage your health, you may find it harder to manage home, work or school responsibilities. Your illness might affect your physical abilities and independence. Physical and emotional stress can magnify your symptoms and may lead to depression.

Although it is normal to feel some stress and sadness when managing a chronic illness, you should contact a doctor or health care professional if these feelings linger or increase. There is help for managing stress and treating depression, and treatment can be covered under your health plan benefits.

Know the signs and symptoms
Most of the common symptoms of stress and depression are the same:

  • Aches and pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease with the appropriate treatment
  • Being tired all the time
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Muscle tension
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities that you once enjoyed
  • Ongoing sad, anxious or empty feelings
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

Having good coping strategies and finding support are key interventions. If you or a family member have any of the signs and symptoms listed above, talk to your doctor or another health care professional immediately. It is important to deal with the stress, and treat both the chronic illness and depression at the same time.

If your Horizon BCBSNJ health plan includes behavioral health coverage, you can call Horizon Behavioral Health at 1-800-626-2212. Behavioral health services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls are confidential. Horizon Behavioral Health can also help you deal with the stress of everyday life.

Sources: 
National Institute of Mental Health, nimh.nih.gov
WebMD, webmd.com

Learn more about how our Chronic Care Program can help members manage their chronic illnesses.

Value Options of New Jersey, Inc. supports Horizon BCBSNJ in the administration of the Horizon Behavioral Health program. Value Options of New Jersey, Inc. is independent from and not affiliated with Horizon BCBSNJ or the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 immediately.