Living with a health condition is a journey fraught with physical, emotional, and even financial challenges. But the psychological impact often leaves us most vulnerable.
So, what is the “psychological impact” of a physical illness? It’s a mental manifestation of the physical that some people recognize while others may not. Having a disease can be akin to experiencing trauma. The shift from being a healthy person to fighting for one’s life with a chronic illness can be profoundly traumatic.
This reality holds true for various conditions, from diabetes and cancer to less invasive illnesses like asthma and ulcers. While these conditions may not be as “serious” as the others, they still remind the sufferer that they are not immortal – and that is often enough to cause trauma.
Arterial ulcers are part of this phenomenon. For many living with this condition, the impact may go beyond physical pain, causing issues with the person’s mental state and emotional well-being.
This article will talk about the psychological effects of arterial ulcers and go into the emotional toll they may take, coping mechanisms that can be implemented and support systems for those suffering.
What is the Emotional Toll of Illness?
Living with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, Crohn’s disease, HIV, or other immune deficiencies triggers a range of emotions. The journey includes the initial shock of diagnosis, managing symptoms, and the common question of “why me?”
Individuals dealing with chronic illnesses often feel anxiety, frustration, and isolation. The uncertainty that comes with these conditions can create a psychological burden, affecting not only those directly impacted but also their loved ones. The same is true of illnesses like arterial ulcers. To understand the burden this illness can have on a person’s emotions, you must first understand what it is and what causes it.
What Are Arterial Ulcers?
Arterial ulcers are a specific type of sore associated with Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), a condition impacting blood flow in the limbs. These ulcers develop when there’s insufficient blood reaching the limbs, resulting in slow wound healing and persistent pain. The emotional impact of arterial ulcers is distinct. Sufferers say they are impacted by the fact that these wounds are ongoing and they face challenges when it comes to managing their symptoms. While people may experience feelings of depression or anxiety upon diagnosis, but they can find encouragement through wound management techniques.
Expanding on the Emotional Toll: It’s common to feel a sense of helplessness. The persistent pain from these ulcers can disrupt daily life, leading to sleep problems and heightened emotional distress. Concerns about infection and uncertainty regarding the healing process further compound the emotional toll for those with arterial ulcers.
What Causes Emotional Pain?
When dealing with arterial ulcers, there are a few causes of emotional pain. We referred to some of them above: depression, isolation, and anxiety Now, let’s talk about some of the more specific causes of emotional pain.
Restricted Mobility & Pain: When an arterial ulcer appears, it causes pain. This can be both stressful and traumatic. Limited mobility adds to the emotional burden.
Fear of Infection: The fear of infection amplifies the stress and anxiety a person feels after diagnosis.
Body Image Issues: Additionally, the visibility of ulcers can lead to self-consciousness, worsening emotional distress.
Uncertainty: Another challenge is the chronic nature of arterial ulcers. Navigating this condition means a prolonged journey toward healing, marked by ups and downs. This can result in frustration and a sense of powerlessness
Living with Arterial Ulcers: Supporting Emotional Health
Healthcare providers play a pivotal role in supporting their patient’s emotional well-being. Here are some ways a healthcare provider can help patients who have recently been diagnosed with arterial ulcers.
Help them Manage Pain
- Use medication, physical therapy, and relaxation exercises to control and alleviate pain.
- Point them toward techniques like mindfulness to help regain a sense of control over daily life.
- Help patients explore yoga and other physical movement as a way to reduce pain naturally.
Show them the Way to Education and Empowerment
- Knowledge is a power. That’s why we say education and empowerment are the same.
- Equip patients with information about arterial ulcers, treatment options, and let them know the outcomes they can expect.
- Empower patients to actively participate in their own care. This reduces feelings of helplessness.
Help Them Seek Psychological Support
- Empower patients to seek out counseling or therapy, either individually or as part of a support group.
Show them How to Build a Supportive Network:
- Help your patients by showing them the power of building a strong support system of friends, family, and caregivers.
Print pamphlets that show your patients the power of CBT therapy, which is a widely recognized therapeutic approach designed to reshape negative thought patterns and behaviors. This may help them manage anxiety, stress, and depressive symptoms.
Mindfulness and meditation serve as powerful tools for managing stress and promoting emotional well-being. Show patients how to stay in the present moment by printing pamphlets with this information.
The Power of Support
Dealing with arterial ulcers can be tough, but having a support system may help navigating some of the emotions. Relying on others is often recommended by mental healthcare professionals because, truthfully, tackling anything alone can be challenging. Let’s explore a few of the support ecosystems that exist and how they can help.
Family and Friends: This is the oldest and most important support system out there. The understanding and encouragement of loved ones can make a significant difference when going through anything, good or bad. Always remember that having open and honest communication about your emotional struggles will create a supportive environment where you feel heard and valued.
Healthcare Professionals: Collaborate with your entire healthcare team for emotional support. That means surgeons, medical doctors, wound care specialists, vascular professionals, and mental health professionals. This ensures holistic care. Plus, it’s easy to stay calm when you know what’s happening. Remember, regular communication with healthcare providers promotes a sense of partnership in the healing process.
In-person Support: Explore local in-person support groups and join them. It will get you out of the house and give you that valuable face-to-face connection.
Online Support Groups: Join an online support group for people with chronic wounds. This is helpful because it allows users to share experiences and emotional expression. Plus, connecting with people with similar challenges can reduce feelings of isolation.
Contact Wound Care OC for wound treatment in Orange County, CA
Dr. Faried Banimahd is a board-certified physician specializing in emergency medicine, wound care, and pain management. Our team at WoundCare OC will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan that meets your needs and unique conditions. Our clinic includes highly trained and experienced physicians, registered nurses, and certified medical staff who work together to provide you with the highest standards of wound care treatments