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How to handle chronic illness and depression

Nobody likes to find out that they're sick, and it's even worse to find out that you're going to stay sick. That's why nobody's really surprised to find out that depression and chronic illness often go hand-in-hand.

So, how can you cope if you've been handled both of these burdens to carry at once?

1. Give yourself time to adjust.

Your illness has likely changed whole aspects of your life, from the way you look to what you do in your spare time. Your sense of independence may also be affected. Give yourself room to grieve the old you before you try to combat the depression.

2. Don't feel pressured to be okay.

You may have friends or family members who seem to encourage you to put on a smile when you just don't feel like smiling. Don't let them drive you. You have a right to your feelings. You don't have to smile and "act normal" until you feel normal.

3. Rethink your personal standards.

A lot of depression centers around how people see themselves, whether they measure up to their own internal goals. Your illness is going to force you to reconsider those goals and inner standards and negotiate new ones with yourself in order to be happy. Success won't look the same as it did before, so set the bar for yourself a little lower.

4. Redefine your dreams.

By the same token, it's important not to give up all your dreams. You may have to change a few -- or find a few new ones that work with your reality -- but you should keep making plans for the future.

It's also wise to seek help for your depression if it continues after you've had a chance to grieve and adjust to your condition. The long-term of effects of chronic illness make it important to get the compensation you deserve in order to afford appropriate treatment for both the mental and physical aspects of your workplace illness.

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