"I've been on dialysis for a little over a year. I'm ok for the most part but every once in a while I have these breakdowns. Does anyone else experience these moments of depression and feeling of overwhelming sadness and hopelessness...?" Depression is the most common psychiatric illness in patients with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). An analysis showed that 34.5% of CKD patients on dialysis were depressed while only 13.3% of pre-dialysis patients showed depressive symptoms. Depression has been shown to affect mortality in CKD patients.
Recommended Reading: Depression Affects Chronic Kidney Disease Patients
Possible reasons for the high prevalence of depressive symptoms among people with CKD and especially those on dialysis are uncertainties about outcomes of treatment coupled with the fear of numerous complications and death. There may also be marital conflicts, strained inter-personal relationships with family and medical personnel, and risk of job losses as a result of frequent absenteeism from work (if patient is employed).
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Psychologist Beverly Drakes says in some cases a life event can be enough to throw a person into a state of depression. This finding can be attributed to CKD patients who have to contend with major life changing events for survival, especially those with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). This matter has to be taken seriously as "very often those who commit suicide in the general population are depressed" says Drakes. If you have CKD then you can feel knocked down so low that if you do not have good strategies and people around you who can help you through your depressive spell, you can be at risk of suicide like anyone else.
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A CKD patient can combat depression by recognizing it is a part of the Human Condition. As the pressures of life increase with the severity of your Chronic Illness you must develop a greater "emotional intelligence" so that you are able to deal with your emotions, both negative and positive because negative emotions are a part of all of us. Also you may consider altering your perception on things as perception is often times reality. You should train yourself to be able to look at a negative situation in your life and say "Is this the only way of seeing it?" Consider positive self-talk in a way that is empowering rather than disempowering. Individuals often disempower themselves and others around them by the things they say. So you must realize that what you say carries a lot of weight and the way that you think is what drives your behavior.
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While many cannot comprehend the depths to which a person can sink when faced with a debilitating and life altering disease like CKD/ESRD, it is up to you to take control and increase your emotional intelligence to face the challenges of your daily life. So when you are faced with strong feelings of depression, take a deep breath and do not be afraid to reach out for help. Talk to your Nephrologist, family, friends, Clergyman and even outreach on Facebook Discussion Forums to connect with others, for "peer counseling", who may be overcoming similar challenges. KidneyBuzz.com reminds you that life is not meant to be a lonely journey, but one of fulfillment and joy. Yes the road is bumpy; full of ups and downs and it may seem like more downs than ups sometime, but give it time and keep moving on with a positive outlook.
You may feel like, "Sometimes it just wears on you and it's too hard to deal with." However, nothing in life is permanent including your moods and current obstacles. One day you feel happy, the next you may feel exceedingly low, and these feelings change constantly to varying degrees. Still, you should always hold your head up high with your chest out and walk with pride because you are a survivor! Live each day as though it was your last and laugh until your stomach hurts (but not too hard for Peritoneal Dialysis patients). Accept that things will go wrong in your life, but remember it is only a phase and that "this too shall pass."
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"Prevalence of Symptoms of Depression among Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease." US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Niger J Clin Pract.
"Psychologist: Depression can affect us all." The Advocate