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How to deal with a serious diagnosis

There is no ideal way to deal with a severe finding, says psychologist Christel Salewski. But diagnosis can also make it easier.
CHRISTEL ZALEWSKI: It is very different. There is no type of processing that applies to everyone. This has been shown by various studies that examined the stages or phases after the diagnosis. Some people feel evil after a diagnosis, but others are relatively unaffected.
Or even feel better?
Yes, indeed, a diagnosis can also be a relief. Because the findings make what one experiences or perceives on one's own body more understandable. You have something to deal with. For some people, this also leads to a feeling of subjective control over the disease. Because when I know what it is, I can again think about what I can do now and what to expect.
How well the chronically ill can continue to live with symptoms and limitations in the long term depends on what?
On the one hand, there is personality. If someone was an optimist even before the diagnosis and basically assumed that everything would somehow shake-up, they will similarly deal with the disease. Another vital point is education. It helps to determine how well I can get information, how I talk to the doctors, and whether I can assert myself in the medical system. But external factors are also important: What material opportunities do I have? How safe is my job? Can I take therapeutic measures where I live, or does this involve a lot of effort? And finally, the personal area decides: Do I have an environment that supports me, in which I am caught, not only emotionally but also in an efficient way?
How does a relationship change when one of the partners falls ill?

This is just as individual as with individuals. What one can clearly say: a bad relationship does not get better with an illness. This actually applies to all adverse events, such as losing one's job. If, on the other hand, the two support each other, if the exchange about how you are doing and how you can help each other is okay, then the disease can find its place in the relationship. It may be that roles have to be redistributed: Who now actually earns how much for the everyday living? Or who takes on which tasks? What can we do with each other, how can we organize our free time? Couples who already have experience with how to cope with such changes in a positive way are well prepared in the event of illness,

What can sufferers do who falls into a deep hole after the diagnosis?

There are successful patient training courses that are offered, for example, during rehabilitation measures. There you can get a lot of information about what you can do yourself to adjust to the disease, for example, changing your diet or exercise behavior. And it teaches you how to keep yourself in line when these life changes sometimes seem arduous. This strengthens one's own competence, thereby regaining control over their own situation. Self-help groups can also be necessary for the exchange because the topic of illness is the same for everyone there.

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