What is the definition of chronic illness?
There are many different health conditions defined as chronic illness or chronic disease. They vary in their cause, symptoms, and long-term effects. Generally, these conditions have recurring or lasting symptoms that persist for more than six months. Once diagnosed these conditions tend to be around for life and may never completely heal [although not always], so they require long term management and care. These types of illesses range in severity from minor conditions through to debilitating and life-threatening diseases.
What are types of chronic disease?
Some common examples of chronic disease include, but are not limited to:
- hearing or vision loss,
- skin conditions including dermatitis and psoriasis,
- arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions,
- autoimmune diseases,
- respiratory conditions,
- kidney disease,
- mental health conditions,
- heart disease, and
Risk factors contributing to chronic illness
Just as there are many different types of chronic illness, there are many risk factors contributing to the development of a chronic disease. Risk factors can include genetics, environment, behaviour, socio-economics, age, and other factors. Not all of these factors are controllable. Yet some factors can be managed to help prevent onset, or reduce the severity of a chronic condition. Manageable factors to reduce risk include:
- physical activity,
- smoking, and
- alcohol use.
Care essentials for chronic disease
Some chronic conditions may go away with time and treatment. Others will deteriorate over time, cause functional damage or disability, and may lead to early death. The extent of impact will depend on the condition and available treatments. What is certain, is these illnesses impact significantly on a person’s quality of life and the lives of their loved ones.
Having a chronic illness, or living with a suffer, can be extremely stressful. Stress impedes recovery and negatively affects how people cope with their illness and respond to treatment. Stress management is important to avoid worsening symptoms and aggravating the condition.
Care essentials for chronic illness should include:
- establishing a good connection and clear communication with doctors and care teams,
- staying informed – know and understand the symptoms and how best to control them,
- addressing modifiable risk factors through positive lifestyle changes wherever possible,
- building skills to strengthen coping and emotional regulation,
- cultivating relationships to avoid isolation and retain emotional support,
- maintaining confidence, positive self-worth, and a sense of well-being.
How I can help you
I have personal experience living with chronic conditions, so I know first hand the impacts these can have on your self-worth, confidence, day-to-day life, and relationships. Using my personal experience, together with my qualifications and experience as a Social Worker, I provide supportive counselling to help sufferers and their loved ones manage the impacts of chronic illness. I can help you:
- improve coping with day to day life, activities, and relationships,
- learn to manage symptoms and maintain a healthy lifestyle,
- process grief and loss as you adjust to the change in your life,
- practice self-care and self-compassion,
- control and reframe negative or intrusive thoughts,
- find a way forward with your condition.
I call upon a variety of approaches in the way I work and the types of activities we might use to manage lifestyle adjustments and improve coping. But essentially I employ a client-directed, outcome-informed approach, which means YOU are the driver. We focus on what you need to focus on, and I will seek to extend your abilities so you can achieve sustainable results.
- provide a safe and empathic space for you to talk,
- listen and offer emotional support,
- help you to identify and action self-care strategies,
- assist you to enhance your coping skills and build resilience,
- support you to adjust negative thought and behaviour patterns if required.
Your sessions with me
You can book your sessions with me starting right here on the website simply by using the Contact form. My session times are flexible so you can fit them in around your other commitments.
Our sessions will be online by video chat, or over the phone. You decide what best suits you. And you can switch between the two depending what you feel like on any given day. If you want to chat with me on the phone while sitting in your pj’s from the comfort of your couch because that’s all you can manage right now – that’s perfectly ok.
Working online or by phone means your sessions are accessible from wherever you are so long as you have access to a phone or computer. This is especially helpful if you don’t feel up to going out, making your way to a physical office space for therapy, or having to ‘see people’. I get it.
We will get though this difficult process together. You are not alone.