Mental Health Challenges in the Bleeding Disorders Community
Mental Health Awareness Week begins May 15, so it’s a perfect time to think about mental health challenges that individuals with bleeding disorders and their families may often face.
People with chronic illness experience difficulties that can contribute to the development of depression, and people with bleeding disorders such as hemophilia are no exception. As early as childhood, people with hemophilia may have difficulty forming and maintaining friendships due to frequent surgeries and hospital stays, or because they need to avoid activities that other children are free to enjoy. They may appear “different” from their peers because of bruises, needle marks, or swollen joints, which can make them targets for teasing or bullying. As a result, they may struggle with social isolation, body image issues, and chronic pain, which can contribute to depression.
Social isolation and its role in depression can be a problem for people with a bleeding disorder into adulthood. Indeed, lack of social support has been noted as an important risk factor for depression in a study of adult men with hemophilia. In the same study, lack of employment emerged as another important risk factor. With a bleeding disorder, there are additional challenges to finding and keeping a job, such as the need for flexibility, adequate medical insurance benefits, and an employer who supports the rights of someone living with a chronic disorder.
Another mental health challenge for people with a bleeding disorder relates to the use of opioid medications to manage pain associated with joint bleeds and surgeries. Because patients often need effective pain relief, opioids have a distinct place in their treatment. Some individuals may be concerned about addiction. For this reason, it’s important to work with a health care professional with an expertise in pain management when considering opioid treatment.
During Mental Health Awareness week and beyond, patients, parents, and caregivers should be aware of these mental health challenges. Together, we can support each other—and ourselves—throughout our bleeding disorder communities.
To get support, resources, and more to overcome challenges like mental health in your life, reach out to your local community chapter. Eligible individuals can also sign up for the HeroPath™ program and receive a personal mentor/life coach who can help keep you focused on your goals and what’s ahead. Learn more at www.mynovosecure.com.
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