The Mental Health Effects of Kidney Failure

The Mental Health Effects of Kidney Failure

Those of us who are living with a chronic disease, or who have a loved one who is affected, know the toll that associated stresses can take on our lives. Physical health does not exist in a vacuum. Our mental and emotional health are inextricably linked to our body’s well-being, and dealing with depression and anxiety can be one of the most difficult parts of coping with a chronic condition.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects one in ten people living in Canada. At least 15,000 people in Ontario have advanced CKD, and an additional 11,000 Ontarians have end-stage renal disease requiring dialysis as a life-sustaining therapy. Living with CKD can be very difficult.

Mental Health & CKD

Mental health problems for those with CKD may develop for a multitude of reasons. Adapting to a lack of control over one’s body and situation is stressful. Those affected may feel isolated from loved ones, not wanting to talk about a difficult illness that will worry others. Relying on partners for daily tasks can shift relationship dynamics and cause strain. Patients may find themselves grieving for their previous health, and the emotional impact of this can take over.

Studies have found that approximately fifty percent of people affected by CKD will experience depression. From diagnosis to dialysis, waiting for a kidney to become available, transplantation, and the decision making process of whether or not to withdraw from dialysis, each stage can bring very real and expected struggles. The more common stresses of life such as family issues, relationships, and financial security can feel like too much to handle.

Some symptoms of depression can also be caused by specific physical changes, such as anaemia. The buildup of waste products in blood can lead to changes in behaviour, irritability, confusion, and problems sleeping. As well, some required medications can cause depression and anxiety as a side-effect.

If you or a loved one are suffering, it is important to remember that mental health conditions are treatable. Becoming aware of the signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression is a crucial first step towards leading your best life. There are many tools for managing symptoms yourself, and there are professionals out there to help cope with the more daunting challenges of life with a chronic illness. Millions of people around the world living with CKD lead productive, satisfying and full lives.

At Share Lawyers, we believe that your physical and mental health come first. Financial constraints should not be another hurdle to face. We are here to make sure that you and your family are taken care of, so you can get back on your feet with confidence.


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