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Easy Ways to Relax When Chronic Health Issues Are Making You Anxious

By Lisa Marie Basile
Reviewed by Susan Ko, Ph.D.
September 06, 2022

If you’re living with a chronic condition, worsening illness, or degenerative disease, you’ve probably experienced some related anxious feelings and thoughts—whether about your current condition or about what the future may hold. And you’re not alone, either.

“Anxiety and worry are so common for people with chronic illness because you are really experiencing ongoing and repeated medical trauma,” says Kelsey Bates, a licensed mental health counselor in Arlington, Virginia, who specializes in mental health concerns related to complex chronic health issues. “Years of repeated medical exams, invasive surgeries, countless treatments, and dismissive doctors can all contribute to the activation of anxiety,” she says.

Fear of the disease itself as well as fear around it recurring or worsening can also be major drivers of anxious thoughts and feelings, according to a study in PLoS One.