I was once told that physical conditions such as hepatitis and diabetes are not my concern. ‘As a psychotherapist’, the person said, ‘you should focus on the emotional needs. Leave the physical ailments up to the doctors’.
I happily ignored this person. I know that to live with a physical condition can have a significant impact on one’s emotional wellbeing, and if someone’s emotional wellbeing is suffering, this can often have an adverse impact on the way that they take care of their physical health.
Today is World Hepatitis Day, and last month we had Diabetes Awareness Week. I had noticed that both conditions seemed to receive little attention compared to other conditions, such as HIV and the various cancers, and yet hepatitis and diabetes can have a significant impact on a person’s physical and emotional wellbeing.
The World Hepatitis Alliance states that ‘worldwide 400 million people are living with hepatitis B or C, and every year 1.4 million people die from viral hepatitis’. A significant number of people with hepatitis also have depression.
At a recent Hepatitis C & Chemsex training event for health professionals, a speaker stated that treatment success for hepatitis C (often referred to as the ‘silent killer’) is relatively high but the following issues can often arise –
Diabetes UK states that 6% of the population in the UK is living with diabetes. According to Dr Mark Pemberton, in an article in the Spectator, there is a greater risk of stroke for those who have type 2 diabetes. In addition, ‘people with diabetes are four times more likely to have cardiovascular disease’ and ’20 to 30 per cent of people with diabetes’have damage to the kidney filtering system. Statistics also show that a significant proportion of people with diabetes have depression.
How a psychotherapist can help
If we accept that physical and emotional wellbeing is entwined, what are the different ways that a psychotherapist can help someone who has a physical condition such as hepatitis or diabetes?
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Chris Warren-Dickins LPC , Licensed Professional Counselor with an office at 162 E Ridgewood Ave, Ste 4B, Ridgewood, New Jersey. Sessions are also available online