Getting bad news from your doctor can turn your whole world upside down. Amidst feelings of shock and fear, your mind will likely turn to concerns about the future. You may begin to wonder if you’re going to die prematurely, how your life will be affected going forward, and what you’ll tell your family. The emotional and physical toll of a health scare can be overwhelming. The good news is you can get through the ordeal and find strength despite facing a difficult time. Here’s how to successfully cope with a health scare.
1. Get a second opinion
Before you start to panic, seek the opinion of another medical professional. This will help you learn more about the disease and mentally prepare for what may lie ahead. It’s best to proceed with caution and get all of your questions answered before deciding on any radical treatments. You can start your search for a second opinion by calling your health insurance provider or taking a look at your insurer’s directory to see which doctors in your network specialize in the illness.
2. Develop a support network
It’s common to feel lonely when you’re dealing with a serious illness. You may feel like no one understands you or cares about what you’re going through. Try reaching out to friends and family, and let them know you need their care and assistance. Staying in touch doesn’t have to require a lot of planning or effort. You can go on short outings together or just chat on the phone, say Mayo Clinic experts. “A coffee break with a friend at work, a quick chat with a neighbor, a phone call to your sibling or even a visit to church are all ways to develop and foster lasting relationships with the people close to you,” the story suggests.
Also, contact support groups for people who are dealing with a similar disease. If you are feeling too ill to travel, consider joining an online support group. This can help you feel less alone as you journey through this time in your life.
3. Talk it out
Don’t keep your feelings bottled up. The stress of not expressing your fears and concerns could make your condition worse, so find a trusted therapist or pastor to talk to. Clinical psychologist Craig White says the uncertainty of an illness can add to one’s feelings of distress. “Chronic disease is associated with high levels of uncertainty. Patients need to change their behavior as part of a new lifestyle of self-care,” White said in a research report about the impact of cognitive behavioral therapy on chronically ill patients. “They also have to endure debilitating and demanding treatments. These are some of the factors that make adjustment to chronic medical illness psychologically demanding.”
If you’re dealing with a cardiac issue, it is even more important to talk things out, as emotional stress can slow down your recovery or even make you susceptible to future cardiac complications, say the experts at The American Heart Association.
4. Take care of yourself
Do what you can each day to stay positive and focused on your recovery. If you love to paint or play an instrument, don’t neglect those activities. Attempt to do the things you would normally have done before your diagnosis. It’s important to continue to engage in self-care. The more you direct your thoughts and activities toward getting better, the sooner you will recover.
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