Any long-term illness can cause anxiety and low mood
Understandably, anyone with a long-term illness may sometimes feel depressed, anxious or have difficulty sleeping. It can quickly become a vicious circle as the low mood or anxiety have a “knock-on effect” on their illness. Anxiety, for example, can cause physical symptoms such as feeling sick, sleeping badly or feeling very tired.
The importance of managing the psychological effects of long-term physical illness is becoming more widely understood and accepted. Many hospitals have psychologists for certain conditions such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis or chronic fatigue syndrome.
It’s important to look at the whole person and consider what else may contribute to general well-being and health, both physically and mentally. This might be practical things like looking at food, exercise and sleep as well as psychological support. Family therapy can be helpful as it is often hard for parents and siblings as well.
What support is there for families?
Family therapy is sometimes offered via a local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, or via a local charity. If your child is an in-patient there may be a parent peer support group (see below for links) or you could start one if not. It is also worth looking at free Parenting groups provided by your local city council or local charities e.g in Bristol, the charity Off The Record has a parent group. Our pages on anxiety and low mood might be also useful for your child (or yourself)
- What is chronic fatigue syndrome and how will it affect me? (The Mix)
- Chronic fatigue syndrome in young people an explanation, description of common symptoms and practical advice
- Chronic fatigue-helping your child get better from the Royal College of Psychiatry
- Managing post-viral fatigue in the context of COVID
- Young Person’s Guide to Chronic Fatigue and ME by The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
- Resources for Coping with Chronic Fatigue for young people from the Chronic Fatigue Service in Bath- activity diaries, energy management, learning challenges, exam stress, relaxation, sleep and lots more. This also links to a specific leaflet on ‘Being well at School’ and information for schools and colleges.
Help for any longer-term condition
- Long-term physical illness and the effects on mental health From the Royal College of Psychiatry with some useful links and a couple of real-life stories
- Advice on parenting disabled children: also useful for parents of children with other long-term conditions
- Wellbeing toolkit A sheet of suggestions for mini steps to take to improve wellbeing-it can be helpful to break things down in this way, which can otherwise seem overwhelming.
- How to set up your own parent support group
- Support for adults and teens with chronic illness from CISFA charity
- Help for young people living with pain from the Royal United Hospital in Bath