Dysphagia and Mental Health: Coping with the Emotional Impact
Dysphagia is a condition that causes difficulty with swallowing. It can be very challenging to live with, both physically and mentally. Not only does it make eating and drinking difficult, but it can also significantly impact your mental health.
People with dysphagia are often at a higher risk of experiencing feelings of stress and frustration, low self-esteem, and isolation. If you have this condition, or are caring for somebody who does, then it’s crucial to acknowledge and understand the emotional impact it can have. This will make it easier for you to take steps to cope with it.
What’s the Connection Between Dysphagia and Mental Health?
Dysphagia can have a serious impact on a person’s mental health. People with this condition might find life very frustrating, as they are no longer able to eat and drink as they once could. Plus, it can be very isolating, especially for somebody who would often go out for food as a way of socializing with others. The symptoms can also leave people with this condition feeling self-conscious and embarrassed, which can exacerbate mental health symptoms leading to anxiety and depression.
The Physical Impact of Dysphagia and its Effect on Mental Health
Dysphagia can cause a person to not get enough nutrients from their food. As a result of this, it can cause malnutrition and severe weight loss, which can contribute even further to feeling depressed and having low self-worth. Additionally, these physical symptoms can also make it harder for people to participate in social activities that they once enjoyed, due to feeling tired, fatigued, and generally unwell.
Coping with the Emotional Impact of Dysphagia
For people with this condition, it’s important to have strategies in place to cope with the emotional and mental impact. Some options to consider include:
Treat physical symptoms: While it might not always be possible to cure dysphagia, there are steps that can be taken to minimize and relieve some of the main symptoms; for example, working with a speech-language pathologist on throat-strengthening exercises, or speaking to your doctor about medication that might help. It’s also worth considering using products that help thicken liquids and make swallowing soups or drinks easier. Check out this SimplyThick company info if you want to learn more about thickeners.
Talk to a professional: A counselor or therapist can help with working through your feelings and provide guidance and support for developing coping strategies.
Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself physically and mentally is important. This could include getting enough sleep, exercising, and making sure that you choose healthier options when it comes to the foods you can eat.
Be patient with yourself: Remember that having a new health condition can take some time to adjust to. By understanding what accommodations you need, and what will make your life easier, you can avoid getting frustrated.
Set realistic goals: Set small, achievable goals for yourself and work on them with the help of professionals. Don’t forget to celebrate even your small successes.
Living with dysphagia can be mentally taxing. Along with the physical impact, it’s not uncommon to experience feelings of frustration, stress, shame, anxiety, or depression. By working with supportive professionals, understanding your limits, and setting small goals for yourself, you can keep your mental health strong as you navigate life with the condition.