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“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.” —Elizabeth Wurtzel

While we all feel sad, moody or low from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time (weeks, months or even years) and sometimes without any apparent reason. Depression is more than just a low mood – it's a serious condition that affects your physical and mental health- Beyond Blue

Psychological treatments (also known as talking therapies) can help you change your thinking patterns and improve your coping skills so you're better equipped to deal with life's stresses and conflicts. 


“It's sad, actually, because my anxiety keeps me from enjoying things as much as I should at this age.”- annonymous

Anxiety feelings and stress are normal and often healthy feelings. Anxiety is when these anxious feelings don't go away – when they're ongoing and happen without any particular reason or cause. It’s a serious condition that makes it difficult for people to cope with their daily life. Everyone feels anxious from time to time, but for someone experiencing anxiety, these feelings aren't easily controlled.

The impact of illness on mental health

“When your body suddenly decides to change its rules about sickness and health, it is hard not to be scared and lose trust.”

“Being sick is stressful. I’m constantly anxious I’ll get worse and pessimistic due to being disappointed by my health worsening."

Depression and/or anxiety are common among people who have chronic illnesses such as the following: Cancer, Coronary heart disease, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Multiple sclerosis, Stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, Systemic lupus erythematosus, Rheumatoid arthritis

In addition to disease specific symptoms, people commonly experience symptoms such as:

  • Pain

  • Irritability

  • Fatigue

  • Loss of interest in things once enjoyed

  • Disturbed sleep

  • Changes in appearance, which can lead to a low self image

  • Physical limitations

  • Tension

  • Headaches

  • Cognitive issues

  • Difficulty in relationships

  • Sexual difficulties

By taking part in individual psychology, patients are given the opportunity to openly express sensitive or private feelings that they may have about their illness and its impact on lifestyle and relationships.

the impact on a carer

"I guess I wasn't prepared for the emotional toll of caregiving. It's the constant physical and emotional impact over time that just becomes so exhausting. I lost a sense of who I was" 

Being a carer for someone with a chronic illness can take its toll on carers. Research shows that carers often experience impaired social and family life and report increased stress, anxiety and depression. For people caring for someone suffering from  Alzheimer's disease, research found that many carers were both physically and mentally exhausted (Rees, O'Boyle & MacDonagh (2001).

Caregiver burnout is another risk associated with caring for someone with a chronic illness.

Its warning signs include:

  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and other loved ones

  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed

  • Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless, and helpless

  • Changes in appetite, weight, or both

  • Changes in sleep patterns

  • Getting sick more often

  • Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person you are caring for

  • Emotional and physical exhaustion

  • Irritability

The safety of a psychology session can offer carers the space to freely talk about their emotions, take time out to process their current situation and discuss and plan for, self care.

Grief and Loss

"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning." (Lewis, 1961)

"I walk down the street and nothing seems real, including myself." (Worden, 1991)

Grief is a natural response to loss. While people traditionally thing of loss referring to the death of a loved one, we now know that it also refers to the loss of a relationship, a pregnancy, a pet, infertility, a job or a way of life. 

Often, the intensity of grief, how long it lasts, and the reaction experienced will differ from person to person.

Lifeline suggest some common reactions include:

  • Feeling sad or down

  • Frequent crying

  • Shock, denial, numbness

  • Stress, anxiety, confusion, exhaustion

  • Anger, guilt, shame, blame or even relief

  • Loneliness, isolation and withdrawal

  • Feeling or acting differently to usual

  • Physical health problems – headaches, changes in eating or sleeping patterns

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Not enjoying usual activities and hobbies

  • Tension or problems with personal relationships

  • Increased alcohol, smoking or drug use

  • Feeling hopeless or like you can’t go on – thoughts of suicide or self-harm


Insomnia is a very common disorder that has significant long-term health consequences. In Australia 13%–33% of the adult population have regular difficulty either getting to sleep or staying asleep. Insomnia is commonly comorbid with other physical or mental disorders. Around 50% of patients with depression have comorbid insomnia.  While most people will have some periods of time when their sleep is disturbed; these problems last longer than 3 months and become chronic.  After such time, people have often developed some unhealthy behaviours and thoughts in relation to their sleep. 

Cognitive behaviour therapy aimed at treating insomnia (CBT-i) targets maladaptive behaviour and thoughts and is considered to be the gold standard in treating insomnia. (Cunningham, Junge & Fernardo, 2013)


Cunnington. D., Junge. M., Fernando. A (2013) Insomnia: prevalence, consequences and effective treatment. Medical Journal Of Australia. 199 (8): S36-S40. || doi: 10.5694/mja13.10718

DeJean. M, Giacomini. M,Vanstone M, Brundisini F. (2013). Patient experiences of depression and anxiety with chronic disease: A systematic review and qualitative meta-synthesis. Ont Health Technol Assess Ser [Internet]. 13(16)1-33. Available from:

Lewis. C. S. (1961) A grief observed. London: Faber & Faber

Rees, J., O'Boyle, C., & MacDonagh, R. (2001). Quality of life: impact of chronic illness on the partner. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 94(11), 563–566.

Worden. J. W. (1991) Grief counselling and grief therapy. London: Routledge

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