chronic illness

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The psychological ability to adjust to chronic medical illness is an area where there has been very little study.  Lately, I find myself working mostly with this population of people.  I’m noticing that some adjust very well and some do it very poorly.  It depends on a lot of factors.

The situation is clearest when the illness we’re talking about is back or neck pain.  Back pain, more than neck pain, has been clearly correlated to the presence of major depression.  If a person walks into the office crying and says they’re having trouble controlling what’s going on, it’s a pretty sure bet we’re dealing with depression.

Most back pain patients aren’t prepared for the kinds of life adjustments they are required to make.  Generally, many will need to switch from a job that has involved lifting or other physical work to a job that is more sedentary.  Quite honestly, most back pain patients are in no way prepared to do this.  Mostly, this is because anything that is sedentary is going to require a higher level of education.  Most of the folks I’m seeing are not highly educated, so the back pain leads to incapacity. Read more on Adjusting to Medical Illness…

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“Concordance.”  That means doctor and patient wanting the same thing.  In psychiatry we call it a “therapeutic alliance.”  We work for it — assuming we have the time.  But if the time is not there, on some level we all know that nothing will happen.

Leave it to the pharmacists to at least touch on a reason for “lack of concordance” that nobody seems to discuss. “With increasing numbers of medications shown to do more good than harm when taken as prescribed, low compliance is a major problem in health care,” reads an unpretentious sentence in the abstract.

And people wonder why there is no “trust” between patient and doctor. Read more on Trusting Your Doctor…

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