Everyone gets down in the dumps. But for people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a case of the blues can last longer than a day or two. A good mental outlook is important to your physical health; a bad outlook can make it more difficult for you to deal with everything your IBD will throw at you. Below are some ideas that you can use to help break yourself out of that funk. Keep in mind that clinical depression is different from temporary sadness. IBD can be associated with depression, and if you find yourself exhibiting the signs and symptoms of depression, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Have a Pity Party
After an initial diagnosis of IBD or when a flare-up happens, it's easy to start feeling sorry for yourself. That's okay -- to a point. Take some time to deal with these feelings and to work through your anxiety. But after a day or two it's time to move on and deal with your problems in whatever way works best for you.
Create a Distraction
Your thoughts may be going in a vicious circle: I'm in pain. Why did this happen to me? What am I going to do? Some of these questions will need answering. Your healthcare team can help you with that. Even so, there will be some uncertainty from time to time, and dwelling on the aspects of your disease that you can't affect is not productive. Engage yourself in something else to get your thoughts out of this cycle. Choose a hobby or activity that occupies your mind and your hands and stick with it.
Let Friends and Family Help
Just be honest with the people who are closest to you. You're sick, you're unhappy about it and you may not be very pleasant until you feel better. They shouldn't take it personally. They can help you in little ways (taking care of housework or errands) or larger ways (making sure you have emotional, physical and financial support). The point is to keep the lines of communication open even if that means arguing until a problem is solved. If you find yourself unable to work through your differences with your family members, talk to your doctor about family counseling.
Easier said than done when your thoughts won't stop, you have the "prednisone crazies" and you are constantly getting up to go to the bathroom. Try taking the steroids earlier in the day, eating your last meal earlier in the evening, cutting back on caffeine, avoiding alcohol and stopping smoking. Relaxation techniques; soft music; a "white noise" machine; and a cool, dark room may also help you get to sleep. Don't go to bed until you're tired. Don't nap during the day, and don't use your bed for anything besides sleep and sex.
Remember: You Won't Always Feel This Way
Your symptoms will improve with time and treatment, and you will feel better. Your blues should not last forever, either. You are not your disease -- you have friends, family and interests that have nothing to do with IBD. If you do find that your case of the blues has deepened into what you think may be depression, seek help. Your gastroenterologist or primary-care physician can refer you to a mental health professional who has experience with patients with chronic disorders.