Prioritizing Mental Health for Individuals with Chronic Kidney Disease

Prioritizing Mental Health for Individuals with Chronic Kidney Disease

June 1, 2022

Many studies have shown us that living with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end stage renal disease (ESRD) can have adverse impacts on individuals’ mental health. Patients are already juggling numerous responsibilities on top of dialysis treatments: jobs, personal lives, medications, maintaining a proper diet, and more. Depression, anxiety, and stress, common among CKD patients, can sometimes be ignored or pushed aside to make room for focus on other responsibilities. However, it’s just as important to manage mental and emotional health because it can lead to a higher quality of life. Our mental and emotional health are key to our overall health, so it’s important to develop practical habits of self-care and resiliency that improve happiness and satisfaction with our lives.

One way to do this is to stay connected with loved ones. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased feelings of isolation and even forced us to distance ourselves from friends, family, and social activities that bring us joy, which can be hard on mental health. However, there are great ways to stay connected without having to meet in person: video and phone calls, messaging on social media, and texting are just a few examples. And as COVID-19 restrictions are lifting and vaccination rates are rising, we are slowly making our way out of this pandemic to resume a sense of normalcy. As it becomes safer to do so, we can start going out to our favorite places and seeing our friends and family again in person.

Also, did you know laughter can provide stress relief? The simplest and best mental health medicine is laughter, which can stimulate circulation and reduce muscle tension, reducing physical symptoms of stress. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air which means it can help your lungs and heart, and the best benefit is that it just makes you feel good and increases the endorphins released by your brain. Have some good conversation and jokes with friends, family, and your care team or watch your favorite sitcom or read your favorite book. Inserting some humor into each day is great for mental health.

By Felicia Speed, PhD, LMSW, Vice President of Social Work Services at Fresenius Kidney Care