Battling Health Issues, Anxiety, And Depression All At The Same Time
Whenever you’re going through a challenging medical condition or an unforeseen diagnosis, it’s okay to grieve. But like many problems, having hope and taking action can give anyone a view of the brighter side of life.
In this episode, John responds to a message sent by one of the show’s listeners about how she’s dealing with her health issues. Most of the time, physical illness can affect one’s mental health – with anxiety and depression being the most common reactions. Cognitive distortion leads you to assume the worst about yourself.
Like many illnesses, a chance for recovery is always within reach. Consulting with a trusted medical professional such as a doctor can help you know the state of your health, so you won’t have to be crippled by anxiety and depression. Taking one step at a time is also ideal to manage and cope with whatever it is you’re going through.
[02:07] Nancy, one of the show’s listeners, reached out to John.
[05:47] Anxiety causes nausea.
[06:12] Self-diagnosis is dangerous.
[08:40] Know the state of your health from the advice of a trusted expert.
[12:25] It is important for you to be proactive.
[16:11] John encourages listeners to motivate themselves.
[21:07] Cognitive distortions lead you to the worst thoughts about your health.
[25:10] Take one step at a time.
[27:00] Don’t give up.
[28:00] Celebrate micro-wins.
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Disclaimer:The Mental Health Today Show is for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as therapy. If you are seeking therapy, please contact a licensed therapist for help.
So many of my clients and really so many of my listeners are battling with their health issues along with anxiety and depression, all at the same time. It's a horrible combination. Isn't it. In this episode, I'm going to answer a question from a listener of mine. Her name is Nancy. And she reached out to me on our website, which is mentalhealthtoday.com by the way.
I would love for you to go there. And if you have a topic or a question, and maybe I'll choose yours to talk about as an episode because I do these episodes a lot, and I need a lot of you to let me know what are some good topics that you're interested in. So that's how I picked and selected this topic.
About health issues and anxiety and depression all at the same time. What do you do? Well, we're gonna be talking about that in this episode, a, the mental health today show coming right up. Oh, don't worry about day or things. We cannot change it's over the past week. Can hear and welcome to the mental health today.
Show my name is John Cordray and I am a licensed therapist and I am the host of this show. And I'm really happy that you're here with me today. Some of you are listening to this and you fit the exact quote of this episode or the title, right? A lot of you are struggling with health issues. Maybe it's COVID related, maybe it's a diagnosis that you recently received.
Maybe it's an ongoing issue that you have had and struggled with for many years. And you have to keep going back to the doctor. Whatever you're struggling with. It's a health issue. And when you're struggling with a health issue many, many times, so does anxiety and depression come along with it. And my listener, Nancy, here's what she has to say.
And I want to use this as kind of a springboard of our episode today. Here's what she said. I just listened to your anxiety, nausea podcast. And this was a little while. Thank you. It was very helpful. I've had nausea for over five weeks now. I was dealing with ear sinus issues. Also. I have an upcoming procedure, a balloon zplasty on my cide and our frontal sinus.
I've also had a whole in my right eardrum, an infected ear tube removal in may. Some of the nausea could be from my ear issues, blocking, hearing vertical, et cetera. And I've lost 20 pounds with no appetite. I tried Lexapro, but I didn't like it. My T suggested volume to help me sleep. And I just hate taking drugs.
I've had a CT scan on a pelvis Andon to make sure nothing is going on. All clear. Then I had an a anoscopy all clear there except for other issues, small issues. Lastly, I just had an MRI of the brain and sinus to check for nerve issues before taking the balloon sin. Plasty haven't felt well since may.
And this was dated in August 23rd. There's a lot going on with you, Nancy, and many of you who are experiencing a lot of health issues, that's a lot going on. If that was the only thing that you were dealing with, it might be okay. You might be able to get through that, but when you have anxiety in.
Depression and nausea that comes with it. When you have other physical things going on in the midst of your diagnosis, or maybe you're trying to figure out what is going on with me, something is going on and the doctors just can't figure it out. And maybe it's test after test, after test, like Nancy was saying, and it can get frustrating and you make appointments.
And maybe multiple appointments throughout your week. And maybe you have to take time off to make those appointments that can produce some anxiety and depression. And when you're not feeling well, like having nausea and sometimes a nausea can come in the morning and sometimes it can come in the evening.
And a lot of times it's caused by anxiety. It's. Thing called on neurotransmitters. And I'm not gonna go into it detail here because I talk quite a bit about that. On this episode, that Nancy was talking about anxiety and nausea. If you are interested in that, you can go into on my website, the mental health today, show.com and then you can put in a search and you can find it pretty easily.
Anxiety does cause nausea and it's not only nausea, but it can come with it. And when you're trying to figure out where's this coming from, and, and maybe you're trying to look at it from a medical standpoint, it makes sense. It makes total sense. Maybe you're having other issues like sinus issues like Nancy was going on with here.
Maybe it's some other procedure or maybe. You just feel bad all the time and you continue to look up on Google to try to figure out your own diagnosis. And that can cause health, anxiety, anxiety around health issues. And maybe they're perceived. Hmm. I'm not saying you're making it up, but maybe you don't have an official diagnosis from a doctor, but maybe instead of going and making an appointment and you have a pain.
You go on to Google and then you can figure out what's wrong. The problem is with that, it's really easy to come up with just about any diagnosis that you would want, or maybe you don't want, but just about any diagnosis to fit your situation. And so I don't recommend that. Obviously I can't stop you.
you're probably gonna go right to, to Google and, and I probably would too, try to figure out what's going. But what can happen is when you look at all of the, the symptoms and then you look at well, what's causing the symptoms, why am I having this? You might find something that is not really associated with what you're actually going through, but it could be a very bad thing.
You know, maybe it's you think you're gonna have cancer or brain cancer or some other terminal illness. And it may not be that at. And you are thinking that it is, and you have these cognitive distortions and a cognitive distortion is something that you are believing that you don't know to be true, but you think it's true.
I talked about this before as well. And when you go to Google or web MD or wherever online, and you type in all the symptoms that you're having, it may not be that at all, but it sure seems like it. And then you're worried and have a lot of anxiety and might even cause depression. And you don't even know.
So if you're struggling, if you are having some physical symptoms, I would recommend going to your doctor. That's one of the first things I tell my client, when they tell me that they're struggling with some kind of physical issue, it might even be just a low energy, a low mood, because that could be a deficiency in something.
And you won't know until you go to the doctor and get some blood work done, but that's usually one of the first things that I'll talk about with my clients, because I want to rule out anything. If you have a deficiency, let's figure it out. If you have a low vitamin D for instance, let's figure that out and talk with your doctor.
And maybe your doctor will put you on some type of a vitamin D regimen, or it might be just eating healthier and maybe you need to start eating more vegetables and fruit in your diet. So a lot of these symptoms can lead to a lot of cognitive distortions, which then can cause anxiety and depress. But it may not be what you're fearing at all.
Unless you go to the doctor to find out you won't know. And I recommend going to the doctor at least once a year for a checkup. And then if the doctor finds something and it's possible, it's possible that something is wrong then, you know, and then you figure out what you need to do to deal. Just like Nancy, she's going and she's getting CT scans and she's trying to figure out what's going on.
She's not staying home and fretting over it. She's actually doing something about it. It's just frustrating because if you don't have an answer yet, you might go to different doctors and maybe you have to go to a specialist like an E N T like Nancy did. But the point is you might be suffering from something there's symptoms.
Your physical symptoms might be the cause of something more medical going on, more physical going on. But if you don't go to the doctor to get checked up, you won't know. And then you go to Google, you go and look, and you might start fretting over something. That's not at all the diagnosis that you have.
So your health issues might be legitimate. It might actually be something. And it might be the thing that you looked up, but you won't know for sure until you go to the doctor. And so I'm advocating for you to go. Now, some of you might not wanna go to the doctor because that and of itself brings anxiety.
I get it. I get that. Totally get that. And if that's the case, call ahead and talk to your doctor, or you go into the, the portal and message your doctor and say, I have a lot of anxiety. Can we meet online? Can we do a telehealth visit instead? Or can you make accommodations to where I'm not sitting in the waiting room?
The entire. So you plan ahead, you call you, you talk to your doctor, your provider and let them know that you're struggling, but you do want to come in. The worst thing to do is to never go see the doctor because of your anxiety. Now I know some of you are listening to this. Maybe you haven't been to the doctor in years.
I just talked to a client. Not that long ago. That's what she said. I haven't been to the doctor in several years. But I need to, it's usually followed up with that, but I know I need to so you gotta, you gotta make time because you don't want to do a reactive. You don't wanna wait until something is really bad.
You wanna be proactive and preventative. If something is going on, if your body is telling you that something is going on, physically with you, you need to pay attention to that and not ignore. And one of the ways that you pay attention to it is contact your doctor and talk to your doctor. That's what they're there for.
And some of you might have a, a long list of excuses of why you don't go to the doctor. It's too expensive. I don't have time too far away. I don't have a doctor. I've talked to clients about that as well. They might move to a new area for two or three years, and they never got around to actually scheduling an appointment with a doctor and they just forget about it.
And then now of a sudden, at three years have gone by, they don't have a doctor and something is wrong. And so when you wait until something is wrong to schedule an appointment with a doctor, you're probably going to wait even longer. And guess what happens? That creates more anxiety, more depression. And so it is important for you to be proactive like Nancy, you know, she's struggling.
And she reached out to me and she's struggling with anxiety and nausea and a lot of other health issues. And it's frustrating. And sometimes you can't get an answer right away. And that is frustrat. But you've got to take action. You have to take your health serious. Even if you have anxiety and depression, you have to, if you don't, the alternative is that you're not gonna do anything and things are gonna get worse.
And so if you're one of those people that makes a long list of excuses and you just forget, oh, I just forgot. Then it's not a priority enough for you. And when something's not a priority to us, we're not gonna get to it. It might be on our list, but it's way down the list until something bad happens. It's kinda like avoiding getting your oil changed in your car.
You know, you need to do it, but you gotta schedule the appointment. It costs money. And it's on your list, but it's way down and you just kind of forget. And then what happens six months goes by a year, goes by and your car desperately needs oil, and then your engine freezes up and then it destroys your car.
You can't do that. And you can't do that with your own body. You gotta take care of your body. Now I know, I know some of you are so depressed and you're physically, I. And it's your depression. That's keeping you from making the appointment, making the phone call, sending the email. And I know the last thing that you wanna do is, is to go because you may not wanna know the, the results.
Maybe you've been avoiding the results. Maybe somebody in your life has been encouraging to go because you've had some pretty major symptoms. But you decide, ah, I don't wanna do it because if I put it off, if I avoid it enough, it'll just go away on its own. And that might happen with some things, but with others, not so much, it could get worse.
I mean, if you have heart palpitations and there's things going on with your heart and your heart skips, and maybe you, you say that to somebody and they tell you, you know what, you really need to go to the doctor and get that. And you say, oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. I'll get to that. And then you don't, that's one of the things that get lead to something much, much worse.
So you don't wanna put things off. If you have health issues and you have anxiety and you have depression all at the same time, it could really capture, you can imprison you. It can immobilize you. I get. No one can help you. No one can make you and no one's going to motivate you except for you. And if you have been putting this off, if you've been putting your health off because of anxiety and depression, I want this to be a wake up call to you.
Something about this title probably resonated with you. And you are listening to this and you I'm sure are thinking, yep. I need to do this, but I want to encourage you. You probably have said that before and nothing happened. Don't let that happen again. Right? I want you to hear this, listening to this, and then I want you to make an appointment today.
Don't put it off. If you're struggling with something, if you have nausea. And it just won't go away. Like Nancy she's had nausea for over five weeks, you know, that's something that needs to be checked out. Don't put it off because it can get worse later on down the line. Let's say maybe some of you actually are not putting it off.
Maybe you have been going to the doctor on a regular basis. Good for you. But maybe the diagnosis that you just received is. And maybe you're thinking about your future and you're catastrophizing. And when we call that a cognitive distortion, when we think about the future and it's doom and gloom, and maybe you have just received a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or maybe a loved one received the diagnosis of Alzheimer's, or maybe just received the diagnosis of cancer.
Or Parkinson's disease or MD or Ms. These are really scary diagnosis and you might be struggling right now with that diagnosis and that's causing anxiety and depression because you're thinking that your life is over the life, you know, is. And it's really easy at that point to give up and lose hope and catastrophies and withdraw from everybody.
And when you convince yourself that life is over, as you know it, you lose hope and when you lose hope, there's nothing to live for. And I want to encourage you. If, if you, or a loved one, just received a diagnosis of a very scary health issue. Your life is not over yet. I don't know what it is that you may have been diagnosed with, but it's not over.
You still have time to live your life to the best as you can, to the degree that you can. It could be a very fulfilling life, but when you allow the anxiety and depression to take over, then you don't have the. And I get it. I do many clients that I talk to have had terrible diagnosis, or maybe a loved one, or maybe a loved one has recently died from a a diagnosis.
And I know that can cause crippling anxiety and depression, and I get it. And I'm not saying you shouldn't grieve the diagnosis. You should, you should absolutely grieve a diagnosis. Because a diagnosis is something that you did not expect. It may have come out of the blue and you should grieve that for a time, but you don't want to allow it to influence what you do or don't.
Do you have to work through that? You have to work through the anxiety and depression. If that's the case, then you may want to go see a therapist. If you're struggling with anxiety and depression, because you received a diagnosis, then you should absolutely go see a therapist and talk about your anxiety and depression.
Now they're not a doctor. They're not gonna help you with the diagnosis, the health diagnosis, but they can certainly help you with the anxiety and depression. And maybe you need to see a therapist before you go in to see a doctor. Because sometimes anxiety can turn into social phobia, which then prevents you from going places like the doctor's office.
And you might need to get help with your social phobia first, before you go see the doctor, and I know that's more appointments, I get it, but you can make a lot of these appointments now on telehealth, you can see a therapist. That's all I do. All my clients are. And I know a lot of doctors do that as well.
You could literally have all of your appointments via telehealth. You don't have to leave the house. Maybe sometimes you do, you might have to get blood work or they might have to check your blood pressure. But even some of that might be able to be done remote, which is amazing by the way, the technology that we have now is just simply amazing.
But when you either receive an actual diagnosis, a health diagnosis, and it's a health issue that could cause anxiety and depression, or you might think you have a serious health issue and that cognitive distortion, you go to Google and look it up and you think, oh, I, I just know I have cancer. I, it must be a brain cancer.
I've been having a headache for two days and I know it's brain cancer. And then that can influence what you do and what you say to people, because you start to believe that you have brain cancer because you Googled it and I get it. That's a natural response, but you don't want to go there. That's a slippery slope because you could be worried about something that is not even a reality.
So, whether it's a health diagnosis that you recently received and it's causing anxiety and depression, or if it's something that it's a health perceived issue. That you think you have because of something that's going on, maybe it's a stomach issue. Maybe it's a pain. Maybe it's a headache that won't go away.
Something is causing you then to Google it, go online and do some research. And then you start to believe that there's something terrible with you that then can influence you. So whether it's an actual diagnosis that you received or one that's perceived, it could influence how you feel. And it can influence how you behave.
And so when you have an, an actual health issue and you have anxiety and you have depression all at the same time, it's important to try to look at it. One thing at a time, I know it's easier or said and done, but look at it as a whole. So on one hand, if you have a health issue, you go see the doctor. On another hand, if you have severe anxiety in severe depression, you need to go see a therapist and maybe you see both or if it's not severe, but you're still worried.
You talk to somebody and you reach out to somebody and you can say to a friend or a loved one, Hey, I've been having this health issue and I'm scared. I don't know what to. And if that's you, then I want you to reach out to your support network. And I want you to talk to them about your fear and your depression of maybe even what you think it is.
You need to be able to process what's going on and for someone to take you serious. And they might say, you know what? You need to go to the doctor. So you might need to hear that extra encouragement for someone. But you don't want to suffer in silence. You don't want to be alone in this, whether you just receive a diagnosis or you think you have a diagnosis, either one, you don't wanna struggle with that alone.
And by yourself, you need people in your life. You need to lean on others to help. So I hope this has been helpful and encouraging to you. If you have an actual health issue and it might be a health issue, that's not necessarily just had been diagnosed. Maybe it's a health issue. That's ongoing. You might be confined to a wheelchair and you can't get out of the wheelchair and you want to, and that's been an ongoing struggle.
Maybe it's been an illness that you've had, and it's just an ongoing illness. It's sustained and prolonged. And the message is still the same, right? So you don't wanna suffer in silence. You need to talk and if you can get out and enjoy life, but how do you do that? If you have high anxiety and depression?
Well, it's one step at
a time. And I, I was just talking to a client it's half a percent. A day, a half a percent more every day. It's all it is. It's all it takes. And if your anxiety and your depression is so high and so bad, try to look at your day and ask yourself what is one half that's what's a half a percent that I can do today.
That will help me be better than yesterday. And then when tomorrow comes, you ask the same thing. What's a half a percent that I could do today. That was better than yesterday. And eventually those half percents will actually start to add up, even if it's just getting outta bed, even if it's just making, making your bed or doing the dishes, maybe if it's just going for a five minute.
A lot of you need to exercise. And that's probably one of the things that your doctor has told you to do. You've, you've gotta exercise. You gotta eat better. And when you look at that as a huge task, then it's gonna paralyze you and you're not gonna wanna do it. But if you think of it as all right, I'm gonna do 5% or even 0.5%, whatever percentage that you want to.
And let's say you want to exercise and maybe you wanna exercise 30 minutes a day, but you're not there yet. Well, then do two minutes a day, go for a two minute walk time yourself, go for two minutes and come back. Well, that could be you're 5% for the day and maybe the next day it's three minutes. You see what I'm saying?
So don't give up completely, no matter what diagnosis that you have or what health issue they're struggling with, don't give up tomorrow's a new day and try to do something more every day. Even if it's 5% more or 0.5% more, and then celebrate that. If you have accomplished something, celebrate. Try to get excited about it because you did something more today than he did yesterday.
And you're not letting the health issue in whatever that may be, get you down, or at least hold you down. Like I said, it's, it's important to grieve an actual diagnosis if you need to or a time, but then you gotta get back to life and try to live your life and enjoy life again. So try to think about, and remember the 5% or 3%, 1%, whatever percentage, and try to add that into your daily routine and think to yourself, what is one thing that I could do today?
That would be an improvement from yesterday. One step at a time. And if you ever have gone on a hike, and if you have ever climbed a mountain and you look up at the mountain and you say, I wanna get to the summit, but you're not gonna get there right away. It takes one step at a time and you gotta pace yourself.
It's the same here. You have to pace yourself and, and then you have to encourage yourself. Oh, I did this today. Yes. Even if it's little and I call those micro wins, celebrate those. Reach out to your support network. If you need to try not to rely on Google for your diagnosis. And if you need to go to the doctor and get checked up, especially if you've been putting it off, go to your doctor, get a checkup, right.
well, I, I appreciate you listening. I appreciate you all so much. And I want you to go check out my website at mental health today. show.com. Just like Nancy did. I would love to hear from you go to the contact form and send me a message. You can say, Hey, I listened to this. You can disagree with me. If I said something that you disagree with.
That's okay. I encouraged a good, honest debate and I'm not perfect. And I don't have it all together. Or if you, if you have a, a topic that you want me to talk about, I would love that. And I'll do the same that I did here for Nancy. And I love hearing from you. So I'm gonna let you go. I hope this was encouraging.
Continue to work on your mental health. And remember the mental health today show has been championing your mental health since 2015. Take care. Bye.