Author name: Meaghan Wamboldt

What is Clinical Depression?

It’s normal to feel down sometimes. It’s even normal to feel hopeless or in despair about a particular situation or circumstance. These feelings are temporary. They may last anywhere from a few hours to a few days and cause minimal disturbance in your day-to-day activities. But, when these feelings become constant, more intense, and lasts for more than two weeks, you may have major depressive disorder. What is Clinical or Major Depression? Major depressive disorder, or clinical depression, is a serious mental illness that can interfere with daily activities like work, school, sleep, and leisure. You may feel less motivated to spend time with friends or family, and instead choose to spend more time alone. This type of depression is much more severe than other kinds of depression, like acute depression or persistent depressive disorder. It’s a severe mood disorder that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. Because clinical depression impacts feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, also known as the cognitive behavior triangle, it often interferes with everyday functioning. People with clinical depression may start to have poorer hygiene, worse performance at school or work, and less interaction with friends and family. For some, …

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What is Spoon Theory?

Living with a chronic illness can be debilitating. Some days, you may wake up with enough energy to climb Mount Everest. But on other days, you can barely roll out of bed and every action takes every ounce of energy you have. Because chronic illness can be so unpredictable, it can be difficult to explain exactly how you are feeling and how difficult some days really are. Spoon Theory “Spoon Theory” is a simplistic way for people who have a chronic illness to express how much energy they have. The theory was created by Christine Miserandino, a lupus patient advocate. From the young age of fifteen, Miserandino had been diagnosed with a variety of illnesses from chronic fatigue syndrome to Epstein-Barr virus. It wasn’t until many years later that she was finally diagnosed with lupus. Lupus is one of many autoimmune disorders where the body’s immune system can’t distinguish healthy cells from foreign cells and mistakenly attacks the healthy ones. While symptoms will vary between conditions, some common symptoms among conditions include: Fatigue Joint pain and/or swelling Abdominal pain and/or cramping Digestive issues Skin problems Cognitive difficulties One night, Miserandino was out to dinner with her best friend when she …

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Osteoarthritis vs Rheumatoid Arthritis: What’s the Difference?

There are over 100 different types of arthritis. While many forms of arthritis are similar, different types are more painful than others and can impact daily activities. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two of the most common types. These two specific types of arthritis share some symptoms, but they have different causes and treatments.   What is Osteoarthritis?  Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting over 32.5 million adults in the United States. It is often known as degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis because it can result from repetitive movements, like playing sports, that put pressure on the joints. Joints are the intersection where two bones come together. In between joints is cartilage, a firm but flexible protective tissue that cushions the ends of bones and protects them from rubbing against each other. With osteoarthritis, cartilage breaks down over time and causes the bones to rub together. When bones rub together it causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and other symptoms.   Osteoarthritis occurs most frequently in the hands, hips, and knees. It may also occur in the shoulder and spine, usually at the neck or lower back.  The risk of developing osteoarthritis increases with age, although it can …

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7 Ways to Deal with Emotional Exhaustion

No matter what you’ve faced this year, 2021 has been full of challenges and change. With one stressor after another, including the continuation of COVID-19 on top of pressures from a job, raising a family, or managing a chronic illness, you may be wondering what else you will have to face.  As adversities continue to come your way, you might start to feel more irritable and tired. You may notice an inability to concentrate or feeling less motivated than usual. You may even feel trapped or stuck. Know there’s nothing wrong with the way you’re feeling. You’re just emotionally exhausted. What is Emotional Exhaustion? Emotional exhaustion happens when you carry heavy emotions triggered by negative or challenging events in life that just never seem to end. This chain of events can leave you feeling worn out and drained. For many, emotional exhaustion builds up slowly over time. Some common symptoms of emotional exhaustion include: Lack of motivation Irritability Fatigue Feelings of hopelessness Changes in sleep Changes in appetite Headaches Difficulty concentrating More absences at work failure to meet deadlines What Causes Emotional Exhaustion? Life challenges are normal and are going to happen. But experiencing especially difficult challenges over an extended …

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10 Ways to Get Through Tough Times

Life is like a roller coaster. There are a lot of ups and a lot of downs. Sometimes you’re on a flat track, moving along at an even pace, and other times you feel like things have come to a screeching halt.  It’s the downhill moments when we feel the ride of life coming to a stop where we all need a little extra support and guidance. Maybe that moment is a loss of a job, a new diagnosis, a family member who’s become ill, or maybe the weight of life just feels heavy. While some of these obstacles we face are far out of control, we can control how we respond to different situations. By improving our ability to navigate the tough times, we learn how to live a more joyful life and grow as people. 10 Ways to Help Get Through the Tough Times Here are a few ways to get through the tough times and come out stronger. Feel Your Feelings Feeling your feelings is one of the most important and helpful things you can do to help you get through the tough times. All too often, our first reaction is to push away our feelings or …

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Holiday Recipes for People with Chronic Illness

When you have a chronic illness, traditional holiday meals can affect how you feel.  If you have kidney disease, you may need to watch your protein and salt intake. For other conditions like heart disease or diabetes, you may need to limit refined sugars. Still, other conditions like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease may require a low-fat, gluten-free diet. Regardless of your condition, navigating the holidays while adhering to your diet can be difficult. While it may be tempting to abandon your healthy routines around the holidays, doing so would be harmful to your health. Instead, do your best to prepare ahead of time so you can prevent your symptoms from getting worse and have an inclusive holiday meal. Communication is key for proper preparation. Make sure to tell your host, or if you are the host to notify your guests, of your dietary needs. Hosts may not need to make an entire meal specific to dietary restrictions, but small changes and adjustments here or there can make a huge difference.  Holiday Recipes Here are a few holiday recipes and meal recommendations for people with chronic illness: The Starters The best appetizers are not usually accommodating for people who follow …

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Your Illness Does Not Make You a Burden

One day, you’re full of energy, doing chores around the house, running errands, and spending time with loved ones. The next, you’re laying down with your feet up, heating pad across your abdomen, asking your friend or family member to bring you an easily digestible, diary and gluten-free meal and if they would switch the laundry for you.  Living with a chronic illness comes with a lot of ups and downs. Some days you may have the energy to do it all, other days you may need to rely on loved ones to lend you a hand. Asking for help from others is hard. You may find yourself saying things like “could I trouble you for…”, do you mind…”, “I hate to bother you, but…”. Needing help with simple tasks, like making breakfast or taking a shower, can be demoralizing and humiliating.  When you have a condition that limits your ability to do daily activities, you will need help. And that does not make you a burden.    You Are Not a Burden There are many ways a person with a chronic illness will need help. This can range from a relaxing night in with good company, going to doctor’s …

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9 Gift Ideas for Someone Living with Chronic Illness

Now that the holidays are here, many of us have started looking for the perfect gift to give to our loved ones. Finding the right gift can be hard. But when you are trying to buy a gift for someone with a chronic illness, it may be even harder.  Chronic illnesses are persistent or long-lasting health conditions that likely don’t have a cure. Some conditions, like heart disease and diabetes, can be life-threatening, whereas others, such as fibromyalgia and arthritis, linger over time and require intensive management. Having a chronic illness means making many lifestyle adjustments to accommodate the demands of the condition.  Symptoms like fatigue, pain, and mood swings often accompany chronic illness. As a result, people with long-term illnesses tend to stay in bed longer, have lower energy levels, and find it difficult to attend social events frequently. While the gift of a cure for chronic conditions doesn’t exist, there are some gifts that can make their condition more manageable and show your loved ones you care.  Gifts for Someone with Chronic Illness Here are a few gift ideas to get you started: Heating pad Heat therapy is an important part of pain management. It works by improving …

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9 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Fight Chronic Illness

If you’re living with a chronic illness, there’s a good chance your doctor has suggested altering your diet to help reduce or eliminate inflammation in the body. Increasing evidence suggests that there is a link between inflammation and chronic conditions like cancer, autoimmune disease, lung and heart disease, gut disorders, asthma, and diabetes.  When the body senses invaders like viruses, bacteria or toxins, or suffers from an injury, the immune system is activated. Upon activation, the body releases inflammatory cells and cytokines that begin the inflammatory response to trap the invaders or heal the injury. As a result, you may experience pain, swelling, or redness, and oftentimes, inflammation goes unseen. Inflammation and Chronic Illness Chronic inflammation happens when the body continues to release inflammatory cells even after the injury has healed or the invader has been eliminated. While there are many reasons why this happens and can vary between individuals, research shows that diet plays a primary role in inflammation in the body.  Many studies have shown the healing power of food, and that certain components of foods have anti-inflammatory effects.  By choosing the right foods, you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. If you’ve already been …

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Chronic Illness-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving is meant for gathering around the table to enjoy time with and connect to friends and family. Chronic illness symptoms like fatigue, achy joints and muscles, and pain are not invited to the table. While a warm, heavy, and possibly sugary dish can bring people together in a special way, it can also cause inflammation. Evidence shows that there is a link between inflammation and chronic conditions like cancer, autoimmune disease, lung and heart disease, gut disorders, asthma, and diabetes.   Inflammation happens when the body continues to release inflammatory cells even long after an injury heals or you’ve recovered from an illness. Studies suggest that diet plays a primary role in  inflammation in the body. When you choose foods with anti-inflammatory properties, you can reduce your risk of illness and help reduce symptoms you may already be experiencing. Whether you have diabetes, IBS, heart disease, or another chronic condition, adhering to your normal diet is an important part of keeping the focus on the purpose of Thanksgiving and not your symptoms.  Chronic Illness-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes If you or a loved one has a chronic illness (or maybe just wants to eat a little healthier around the holidays), you …

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