The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth.

~Chinese Proverb~

Crohn’s and depression: If it isn’t one end it’s the other

Receiving a diagnosis of any illness can knock the wind out of us. It takes a while to breath normally again. We may experience symptoms of depression while we adjust to the chronic diagnosis and learn to manage it. After a period of adjustment, the depressive symptoms usually diminish, but sometimes not.

Some illnesses, such as Crohn’s disease, have symptoms that overlap with those of depression. For example, feelings of helplessness and a diminished sense of worth are common signs of depression, but also typical reactions to living with a chronic illness.

Crohn’s is a cyclical disease of the digestive tract and intestines, causing the tissue to inflame and swell. It hurts to think about it. Other symptoms are chronic diarrhea and abdominal cramps, rectal bleeding, fever, weight loss, and the development of ulcers. This illness requires regular monitoring by a physician and continuous monitoring by the patients.

Most chronic illnesses are not thought to cause depression, including Crohn’s, though it can negatively alter people’s perception of themselves. Managing the illness can wear sufferers down as well.   

Adjustment or depression? 

It is easy to imagine that adjusting to an illness, with chronic diarrhea as a common symptom, is difficult. There is a period of adjustment that may include a depressed mood, and after adjustment there might be periodic periods of sadness or anxiety. How do Crohn’s patients know whether their bad moods are part of an adjustment period, or are a serious mental health issue?

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