Coping With Anxiety and Depression While Managing Osteoporosis
Believe it or not, some stress is a good thing. In some situations, stress can boost performance, concentration and energy levels. Stress can motivate the college student to study hard and efficiently. It can push an employee to completing work faster than his boss thought possible. It can compel the athlete to knock the ball out of the park or to sink the winning putt.
So, why does stress get such a bad name? The problem begins when stress becomes chronic. With enough time, stress begins to wear out your healthy coping skills and protective strategies. Once your skills are down to zero, stress takes hold and promotes a negative presence in your life.
The best solution is to avoid stress whenever possible, but if you have osteoporosis, you know that stress avoidance is impossible. You may fear the next big fall or have intense concern that a sneeze or cough could lead to a break. Osteoporosis is constant stress. You need to know how to deal with it.
Anxiety and Osteoporosis
One of the most common mental health issues for people with osteoporosis is anxiety. Gaining awareness into the symptoms of anxiety gives you the ability to look in on yourself to track the changes. Oftentimes, it is helpful to ask others in your life if they have noticed changes in you as your self-monitoring may be flawed or inaccurate. Symptoms of anxiety include:
- Increased worry about aspects of your life. The worry might be related to a specific activity, item or situation or it could be widespread to all aspects of your life.
- Problems paying attention to conversations or work. Feeling that your mind is blank.
- Problems falling asleep because your mind is spinning or trouble staying asleep
- Feeling more angry, irritable and having a shorter temper
- Feeling physically tense and restless
- Being fatigued, tired and having less energy
Self-talk does a lot to influence your anxiety. Your self-talk is the internal dialogue that you have with yourself throughout the day. Everyone has a steady stream of communication in their mind and what you say to yourself can trigger anxiety. A cornerstone of anxious self-talk is the question “What if.” When anxiety begins, you may ask yourself “What if my osteoporosis gets worse?” or “What if I fall and can’t get help?” These questions are natural but anxiety begins to speed them up and repeat them endlessly. Then, the questions mutate to become less rational and more fear-based. Your body becomes tense, and you become more irritable.
Many people with osteoporosis become so overwhelmed with anxiety that they begin to withdrawal and isolate. They become panicky and rarely leave the house. Anxiety has convinced these people that the risks of walking out of the front door are too great.
Depression and Osteoporosis
Some people with osteoporosis are likely to experience increased anxiety. Others are more likely to experience symptoms of depression. As with anxiety, knowing the symptoms of depression gives you the ability to recognize these issues in yourself before they grow out of control. Symptoms of depression include:
- Increased feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness with poor self-esteem
- Increased difficulty focusing, concentrating and maintain attention
- Changes in weight marked by significant weight gain or loss
- Changes in sleep including sleeping too much or too little
- Less interest in doing things and having less energy to do things you enjoy
- Thoughts of suicide or thinking the world would be better off without you
With osteoporosis, like other chronic medical conditions, depression moves in as grief and loss. People experience feelings of loss for a number of reasons that extend beyond death. Loss of functioning and a massive shift in self-perceptions trigger a loss reaction. Feelings like confusion, shock, denial, anger and depression begin to present during the process of resolving the loss. Since osteoporosis is such a devastating blow, many people become stuck on the feelings of depression.
Like with anxiety, your self-talk plays a huge part in your depression beyond grief. Imagine someone that you love and care about systematically telling you that you are worthless, unlovable and a burden. Maybe you could rebound after hearing this once or twice but not if it was all day every day. If you say to yourself that osteoporosis is the worst thing that could ever happen to you, you will never be able to deal with it, your life is going to be terrible now and other similarly negative things, depression builds and becomes more pervasive as it wears down your defenses. Negative self-talk over an extended period of time will create depression where none existed before.
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