It’s no secret that divorce can be very messy and very stressful. I know that there are some who may feel that divorce is the best thing that could happen to them because they are free to live their lives as they choose. Nevertheless, it can take quite a bit out of just about everyone who goes through it, especially when it comes to managing your medical conditions during divorce.
It’s More Than Divorce You’re Wrestling With
As someone who has been in the health care field for many years, one of the concerns I have about the divorce process is the effect it can have on anyone who is living with one or more long-term health issues.
It can be tough enough to maintain a healthy body with no illness, even if you’re not dealing with divorce. But individuals who also struggle with the unique challenges that various chronic illnesses bring can experience an even heavier strain that affects them physically, mentally, and emotionally.
While there are all kinds of challenges to living with any chronic illnesses, this article will mostly focus on managing your medical conditions during divorce. Particularly, we will look at four of the most prevalent conditions that affect millions of people throughout the United States: hypertension, diabetes, anxiety, and depression.
Hypertension’s Pressure on Your Body
Hypertension is a condition in which the force of the blood of your arteries, when it is too high over a long amount of time, can cause damage to the heart and blood vessels in the body. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 75 million Americans have hypertension. That is about 1 in 3 people. The heart constantly pumps blood throughout the body, but various influences can cause too much pressure in the blood vessels, including heredity, diet, lack of exercise, and factors that may not be known.
In the divorce process, a notable factor is stress. Prolonged stress in the body can cause many health symptoms, but hypertension is one of the most serious. While some people may have symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and fatigue, hypertension is well-known as The Silent Killer because it can often present no symptoms at all. If left untreated, hypertension can result in such life-threatening problems as heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.
It is vitally important to closely follow the directions of your physician to bring hypertension under control and keep it under control as much as possible. Such measures as reducing salt and fried-food consumption, exercising 30 minutes a day, and reducing stress exposure can go a long way in reducing your blood pressure. Consider investing in a blood pressure monitor. Work with your doctor to regularly track your blood pressure measurements, and to learn your target blood pressure levels.
Especially important, if you are on blood pressure medication, please do not skip any doses. The medication is working hard to bring your blood pressure levels under control, and if medication is skipped or stopped completely, your blood pressure can rebound and elevate to dangerously high levels. If your medication is resulting in uncomfortable side effects or does not seem to be effective in controlling your blood pressure, report this to your doctor so your treatment plan can be revised to a more effective one.
Diabetes and Its Wide-Ranging Effects
Diabetes is a condition in which the body either does not produce enough insulin, or it is not able to properly use the insulin being produced. Insulin is needed by the cells of the body to process sugar as energy to carry out their many functions, depending on where in the body they are located.
Without insulin, sugar does not get inside of the cells for energy but stays floating in the blood. Over a prolonged period of time, this can cause damage to many areas of the body, but the most pronounced damage can be to the cardiovascular system, resulting in strokes and heart attacks; to the kidneys, resulting in kidney failure; and to nerves, skin, and other areas, resulting in eye diseases, blindness, or limb amputations.
According to the American Diabetes Association, over 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, and a significant number of those people don’t know they have it. That’s because the symptoms of diabetes, such as fatigue, excessive hunger or thirst, and frequent urination, are mistaken for symptoms that are harmless or general in nature. Not only should diabetes symptoms be given attention, but also keep an eye on complications that often occur along with diabetes, such as hypertension.
Stress can play a very significant role in diabetes, and that is why self-care during the divorce process is so important. Blood sugar levels rise when the body is under stress, so it is essential for diabetics to frequently monitor blood sugar levels, take medications as prescribed, maintain a healthy diet and exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
Diabetes can have a pronounced effect on blood pressure and cholesterol, so make sure you work with your healthcare provider to keep these numbers in acceptable ranges, along with your blood sugar level.
Anxiety and Depression’s Effects
Many emotional symptoms occur during the divorce process, from worry and panic attacks, to anger, sadness, and hopelessness. When prolonged and severe enough to interfere with everyday living, these symptoms could be a part of treatable conditions related to anxiety and depression. Often, these symptoms can feel very out of control and have pronounced effects on how affected individuals think and the actions they take to resolve what seem to be insurmountable problems.
Anxiety can make you feel that the problems in your life are so overwhelming, your ability and recourses to handle the situation just aren’t enough. As a result, worry and despair take over thoughts and actions.
Depression, on the other hand, can make you feel that no matter what is done, or how much is done, it doesn’t matter. As a result, resignation and hopelessness take over thoughts and actions. Particularly in depression, major red flags are suicidal thoughts and possible attempts.
Thinking about suicide is an emergency.
Seek immediate help.
The National Suicide Prevention Help Line is 1-800-273-8255.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, please call your nearest suicide assistance hotline, emergency medical care or your health care provider and get help.
No matter how much you may feel you can handle your emotions at this point, get the needed support that can help you through this difficult time. Along with following the medical treatment plan prescribed for you, also consider other modalities, such as support groups, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, and the incorporation of exercise to bring some relief to symptoms. Even having a trusted family member, friend, or spiritual advisor to talk with can help to bring clarity to the mind and more calm to the emotions.
Take Special Care of Your Medical Conditions
Self-care is extremely important when managing your health during divorce. Do what you can to keep stress and grief to a minimum for better care of your body, mind, and emotions as you also make sure that you closely monitor the chronic medical conditions that you may have. Taking good care of yourself now can ensure better health and more positive outcomes for the functioning of your body in the future.
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