Whole Person Health: Mental Health

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People living with chronic conditions have health management needs beyond their primary treatment that are not being met. This four-part series examines the behaviors and attitudes of chronic condition communities to determine approaches that can help them better manage their health — holistically, for their entire selves.


From treatment side effects and the steep cost of care to missed work due to illness and the feeling of being misunderstood, the weight of living with a chronic condition is heavy. It requires organizing treatment regimens and doctor appointments, not to mention managing diet and nutrition. As a result of these burdens, people with chronic conditions experience higher rates of anxiety and depression compared to the general population.

Research conducted by Healthline Media investigated the rates of depression and anxiety among individuals with chronic health conditions and explored whether people are accessing mental health services:

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The need for additional care

The elevated levels of anxiety and depression in these communities — combined with how few people with chronic conditions access the care of a psychologist, counselor, or therapist — highlights the need for greater effort in getting people living with chronic conditions the mental healthcare they need. 

Increased feelings of isolation

Recent data (2019-20) from proprietary Healthline Media research reveals that people with chronic conditions also experience regular bouts of loneliness, isolation, and misunderstanding — even from their families and friends. One Healthline Media reader living with psoriatic arthritis said it was “a difficult condition to live with, especially when your loved ones don’t understand just how much you hurt.” 

  • NEARLY HALF say their family, friends, and co-workers don’t understand their IBS

  • 43% report that their psoriatic arthritis has had a negative effect on their love life

  • 1 in 4 avoid going out in public due to their psoriasis

  • 49% feel isolated daily or weekly due to their rheumatoid arthritis

“Sometimes I feel alone. I’m always tired, and my body always hurts. I’ve learned through the years to smile through it all. Unfortunately, most don’t care or understand.” — Healthline Media reader living with Crohn’s disease

Coping strategies

Increased feelings of isolation, combined with high levels of anxiety and depression, can inspire people living with chronic conditions to search for alternative solutions. Some are trying services like meditation (16% of those with psoriatic arthritis have experimented with it) and acupuncture (“Anyone who can should try it,” said one Healthline Media reader living with Crohn’s disease).

Others are trying various products like CBD (17% of those with rheumatoid arthritis are using it) and medical cannabis (“The only reason I’m able to sleep is because I use edibles at night,” said one Healthline Media reader living with rheumatoid arthritis).

Others are finding connection through social platforms. One Healthline app user said, “Sometimes when we have those IBD anxieties, it really just takes someone saying, ‘I see you, and I hear you, and I’m here for you’ to make it all go away.”

Mental health needs remain

Healthline Media’s resident pulmonologist says the top conversation theme in the doctor’s office for people living with COPD has been anxiety and depression management, followed by end-of-life care. COPD health management and treatment are not top-of-mind for this community: mental health is. 

Those living with HIV say their anxiety and/or depression levels can impact their medication adherence. About a quarter (26%) reported this reason for not taking their medication as instructed, saying they’re less likely to comply with their medication if they’re experiencing bouts of depression, a lack of energy, or even if they just want to avoid the emotionally difficult journey of picking up their treatment. “You build a relationship with your pharmacy, and then you have to interact with the staff. You have to deal with the way they look at you when they realize the medication you’re taking is for HIV,” said one person in our survey.

Let’s talk 

Healthline Media understands the importance of mental health management in the context of chronic conditions. Medically reviewed content, written in an empathetic and compassionate voice, provides people with chronic conditions the resources, referral information, and support they need so they can live healthy and balanced lives.

If you’re interested in deeper analysis of mental health and its relationship with chronic conditions, reach out to your Healthline Media representative or email us to find out how we can provide custom solutions for your brand.

Explore other topics in whole person health:

DIET & NUTRITION

COMPLEMENTARY HEALTH

FINANCIAL WELLNESS

Sources: 2019 Healthline Media Planning Insights Lab data (IBS, UC, CD); 2020 Healthline Media Planning Insights Lab data (HIV, PsO, PsA, COPD, RA)

About Healthline Media

As the #1 health media property in the US, Healthline Media reaches 90MM unique visitors each month (Comscore, May 2020). We provide credible health information with a compassionate approach.