Chronic kidney disease is a health condition that causes a progressive loss of kidney function. The disease may also affect a person’s mental health, potentially leading to conditions, such as depression and anxiety.
In the early stages, chronic kidney disease (CKD) often does not cause any symptoms. Over time, it can cause a person to develop symptoms, such as high blood pressure and swelling. In its later stages, CKD can lead to kidney failure.
This article discusses mental health and CKD in more detail. It also outlines two mental health problems that are common among people with CKD and how doctors may treat them.
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CKD can affect a person’s mental health in a number of ways. For example, it can make a person feel physically unwell, which may have a negative effect on their mental health and how they respond to stressful situations.
Depending on the stage of a person’s CKD, they may face certain stressors that can impact their mental health. They may have to change multiple elements of their life, which may feel overwhelming.
Hemodialysis is a treatment for CKD.
The American Kidney Fund states that stressors associated with dialysis may include:
- the time commitment for dialysis
- feeling like a burden to others
- the financial cost of the treatment
- the fear that dialysis may cause pain
- worrying how dialysis may impact a person’s:
- social life
- love life
- not being able to get good-quality sleep
- eating restrictions
- changes in employment
A 2021 review found that
Depression and anxiety are two mental health conditions that medical professionals associate with CKD.
- feelings of:
- a loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- sleep problems
- physical aches and pains, such as headaches
- changes in appetite
- unintentional weight changes
- suicidal thoughts
If a person experiences depression symptoms for at least 2 weeks, they should speak with a healthcare professional.
Occasional feelings of worry are
Common symptoms of anxiety include:
- on edge
- wound up
- difficulty controlling feelings of worry
- having difficulty concentrating
- aches and pains that may not have an obvious cause
- sleep problems
If a person with CKD thinks they may be experiencing depression or anxiety, they should speak with a doctor. Healthcare professionals can recommend treatments on an individual basis.
Treatments for depression
- Antidepressants: These medications change how a person’s brain produces or uses certain chemicals that play a role in mood or stress to help reduce symptoms of depression.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This type of therapy helps a person adjust their behavior by changing their thinking patterns. It may help a person with depression identify negative thoughts that may worsen their symptoms and implement changes to reduce the impact depression has on their life.
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT): This type of therapy helps a person with depression identify and address problems in their relationships with others. It may help reduce symptoms of depression.
Other lifestyle changes a person can make to help improve their depression symptoms include:
- exercising regularly
- maintaining a regular sleeping routine
- eating healthily
- trying to connect with people and talking to people they trust
- breaking down large tasks into smaller ones
Treatments for anxiety
Similar to depression, doctors
Medications that a person may take to treat anxiety include:
- Antianxiety medications: These medications may help reduce a person’s anxiety symptoms, as well as panic attacks and extreme fear or worry.
- Beta-blockers: These medications may help treat physical symptoms of anxiety, such as:
- Antidepressants: These medications may help improve anxiety symptoms by helping manage how a person’s brain uses certain chemicals that control mood or stress.
Healthcare professionals may also recommend therapies, such as CBT and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to treat a person’s anxiety symptoms.
During CBT for anxiety, a person may undergo exposure therapy, which is a CBT method that may help a person confront fears that are contributing to their anxiety. This may help them engage in activities that they have avoided to help reduce feelings of anxiety.
A person with anxiety may also benefit from ACT, which uses mindfulness and goal setting to help reduce a person’s symptoms. Researchers are still evaluating its efficacy.
Lifestyle changes a person can make to improve their anxiety symptoms include:
Chronic kidney disease causes a progressive loss of kidney function. Living with CKD may affect a person’s mental health in a number of ways. For example, in addition to feeling physically unwell, they may need to make significant changes to their life, which may feel overwhelming.
Doctors often recommend dialysis as a treatment for the condition. Research suggests that
A person living with CKD should speak with a doctor if they think they are experiencing any mental health conditions. Healthcare professionals can recommend treatments for depression and anxiety, which include medications and psychotherapy.