Living with hepatitis C is very depressing and nerve-wracking. It can also interfere with your relationships. People with hepatitis C are often anxious about how other people view them. In reality, hepatitis C is a disease that infects all sorts of people from all sorts of socioeconomic backgrounds. And public perceptions of people with hepatitis C may be more sympathetic than you think.
If you are diagnosis as HCV you may avoid talking to friends or family about the disease because you’re worried about how they’ll react. So here we discuss some things you can do to cope with these challenges and overcome the stigma that can undermine your good health and well-being.
Like other contagious diseases, viral hepatitis is highly stigmatized. It is associated with stigmatized behaviors (including sex or injecting drug use). Rather than viewing it as one would the flu or other community-borne infections, people will often assign blame to those who have been infected. wherein people are often considered “guilty” if they are infected and “innocent” if they get infected. These attitudes have long been fueled by ignorance about the disease and how the virus is transmitted.
When the faced with the threat of judgment, many people with hepatitis will isolate themselves, fearing disapproval or discrimination. It is an understandable response but one that can leave you vulnerable to anxiety and depression or dissuade you from seeking the medical care you need.
So great is the fear of public exposure that some will wait for years until their liver is severely damaged and few treatment options remain. Others will turn to alcohol or drugs and further speed the progression of the disease.
While there are no magic pills to overcome these emotional barriers, there are a number of things you can do to cope with a hepatitis diagnosis.
You need to follow your doctors instructions, but simultaneously you need to become a partner in your own care. Learn everything you can about the virus, including its effect on the body, how it is transmitted, and what treatment options are available.
Use your doctor as a resource to answer your questions and direct you to the best reference materials. By doing so, you can correct any misconceptions you have about the disease and answer many of the “what ifs” that may be causing you distress.
By educating yourself, you will learn is that hepatitis is no longer the hopeless disease it once was. Not only are there effective treatments, but their side effects are far less severe.
Receiving a hepatitis diagnosis can leave you feeling shocked, numb, sad, angry, panicked, or guilty. You may even cycle through these emotions as you grapple with what the diagnosis actually means. All of these feelings are perfectly normal.
Rather than trying to “fix” your emotions, remind yourself that coping is not an event; it is a process that takes time. Even if you are in a state of denial, the denial can be a means of coping, essentially buying yourself time until you have the strength to look at the disease in the eye.
With that being said, you should never allow gloom to define your condition. Strive to remain positive. Not everyone responds to hepatitis in the same way; some have even used it to make positive changes.
Even if you are still reeling from the diagnosis, it helps to set goals and targets and you may be feeling and provide you a better sense of control and self-determination. As a general rule, try not to leave the doctor’s office without setting your next appointment. If you find yourself overwhelmed, ask for a referral to a counselor or social worker who can navigate you through the system and help you identify the family, mental health, financial, and substance abuse treatment services you need.
If you are not yet able to access treatment, set aside time for routine lab tests and follow-ups. The most important thing is to remain linked to care. By stepping out of care, you risk falling out of the system altogether.
To normalize hepatitis in your life, you need to establish a routine so that becomes a regular facet of your health rather than some big, bad thing you have to face occasionally and with dread.
Living with hepatitis can be extremely stressful, impacting your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Rather than ignoring it or treating it with alcohol or medications, there are mind-body therapies that can help. These include:
- Gentle yoga
- Tai chi
- Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR)
- Guided imagery
- Controlled breathing
Exercise can also be a great stress reliever, boosting levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin and neurochemicals called endorphins. Even taking a leisurely 30-minute walk can help you de-stress by lowering your blood pressure and providing you a much-needed change of scenery.
overweighting may depositing fat in the vessels leading to and traveling within the liver and leads to liver damage. This can lead to a condition called portal hypertension which not only hurts the liver but also increases your overall blood pressure (as well as your risk of heart disease and diabetes).
Losing weight and lowering your blood pressure is essential to protecting your liver. The best place to start is by engaging in routine exercise with a combination of resistance and cardio training. No matter how out of shape you may be, by starting slowly and increasing incrementally, you can gradually shed the pounds and feel an actual benefit in a relatively short amount of time.
Diet and Nutrition
The liver metabolizes everything you eat, so a healthy diet is essential for people living with hepatitis. Moreover, if you have fatigue common in acute and advanced-stage disease, a healthy diet can provide you with the fuel needed to function normally.
Here are some of the ways to protect your liver while ensuring proper nutrition:
- Reduce your red meat intake.
- Reduce your saturated fat intake.
- Cut back on simple carbohydrates.
- Eat more whole grains, beans, and vegetables.
- Drink plenty of water
Avoid fad diets which rarely work and often deplete you of the nutrients your body needs. Instead, work with a qualified nutritionist or dietitian who can help design a program that is safe, effective, and sustainable.
You can’t manage healthy life if you didn’t sleep well. Getting enough sleep is very important for your health. Lack of sleep not only promotes fatigue and depression, but it also diminishes the body’s overall immune response. So sleep is an important factor in maintaining healthy life.