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How to Cope with a Distressing Medical Diagnosis?


When we think of taking care of ourselves, we think about our mental health, our emotional health, and of course our physical health. According to research conducted by Mount Sinai, 1 out of 5 Americans are proactive about getting their yearly physicals. The Cleveland Clinic reports that 1 in 3 Americans avoid going to the doctor regularly and when they are concerned that they need medical attention. Why do people avoid going to the doctor? Several reasons for avoiding medical care include finances, time, distrust of medical professionals, discomfort with medical procedures, and most commonly…fear. Speaking of fear, when we go to the doctor, we get our blood work completed and then we have to wait dreadfully for the results of our blood work to come in. The week wait can be anxiety-ridden and difficult to manage. You get a call back from your doctor with the results and sometimes the results are exactly what we expected them to be and other times they are the exact opposite of what we expected them to be. During those times when the medical diagnosis is harsh and difficult to comprehend we can experience distress, anxiety, and even fall into depression.


In this post, I will be covering how to manage fear associated with a distressing medical diagnosis with tips for managing your stressors and anxieties regarding this subject. Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Chronic Lung Disease, Stroke, Alzheimer's Disease, Diabetes, and Chronic Kidney Disease are a few illnesses that can cause severe distress when diagnosed. According to the American Psychological Association, people with depression and several life stressors before being diagnosed with a chronic illness are at a higher risk for psychological distress. It was also found that people without stressors or prior mental health conditions were just as easily affected negatively psychologically by a severe medical diagnosis. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 6 in 10 adults in the United States are diagnosed with a chronic disease and 4 in 10 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with two or more chronic diseases. Due to the statistics of chronic disease and illness, knowing how to cope with distressing medical news will be useful currently or in the future to avoid severe psychological distress.


Tips for Coping with Severe a Medical Diagnosis


To continue, coping with distressing medical news can seem impossible to cope with effectively due to the severe nature of the situation. Even though coping may seem impossible there are ways to be able to manage your feelings and emotions effectively to avoid psychological distress.


So how do we cope with a life song or chronic illness?

  1. Acceptance: Accepting your diagnosis without denial and avoidance can be a vital part of coping healthily to avoid psychological distress. Accepting your diagnosis can assist with being able to utilize resources and seek the support that is needed for your specific diagnosis.

  2. Seek support: Seeking support from family friends and support groups can be essential for managing the psychological, emotional, and physical distress of the boy. According to the American Psychological Association, support during difficult or stressful times is proven to boost resilience which is important for protecting you from mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

  3. Maintain Healthy Habits: continue to focus on healthy habits such as adequate rest, proper eating habits, and continuing to be involved in the activities that you would normally enjoy to reduce the risks of depression.

  4. Focus on Strengths: During distressing events and experiences, it is easy to focus on the negatives and ignore the parts of life that continue to be positive and fulfilling in our lives. Maintaining a hold on life's meaning and purpose is important for gratitude and seeing the small positive sparkling moments that still show up in our lives daily. ex) Affirmations for maintaining positivity

  5. Seek Professional Assistance: Seeking additional information from your healthcare provider about the facts versus the myths is also important when coping with a severe diagnosis. Resources such as therapy may be necessary to assist you with processing and exploring core beliefs associated with your diagnosis that can further cause distress.



All in all, coping with a chronic or severe medical diagnosis can be distressful and cause a roller coaster of emotions that can be difficult to manage. Taking steps such as acceptance, support, maintaining healthy habits, focusing on strengths, and seeking professional assistance.


For more tips, please check out our other tips here: www.plantationcounseling.com. You can always find us at 954-903-1676 for counseling services.

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