Depression & Chronic Illness Psychologist in Thousand Oaks, CA

Whether it is diabetes, cancer, fatigue, or a heart condition, your chronic illness is a difficult daily struggle. In addition to the regular day-to-day stressors that everyone faces, individuals with a chronic illness must cope with the constant uncertainty of their health status. It is a misconception that chronic illness only requires physical medical treatment, as the longtime wear of these diseases can lead to exhaustion, anger, and depression.

Chronically ill individuals often benefit from speaking to a trained psychologist about healthy coping skills. For a compassionate chronic illness psychologist in Thousand Oaks, CA, please call Laura Thomas, Ph.D. I provide support to individuals whose conditions leave them feeling hopeless, alone, and overwhelmed.

Living with a Chronic Illness

The initial diagnosis of a chronic illness can bring a rush of emotions including denial, hopelessness, and fear. Even after these immediate feelings have passed, you may continue to experience negative emotions relating to the way the illness affects your energy level, relationships, personal appearance, and daily activities. Combined with the physical effects of the illness and treatment of the illness; emotions can be overwhelming, and you may feel unable to function in your daily life. As your chronic illness psychologist, I help you identify ways to overcome these obstacles.

I work to help clients learn new coping skills that empower them to process uncomfortable emotions and succeed in their day-to-day activities. Some individuals may need to learn relaxation exercises that help them to relieve extreme anxiety or to alleviate the experience of painful physical symptoms. Others may need guidance in processing the uncertainty or anger they feel as a result of their condition. Changes in your energy level or personal appearance are also topics that we can address during our sessions. Together, we will discover a path toward peace and emotional healing.

Cancer Patient

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Effective Therapy for Improved Quality of Life

Despite the significant challenges that come with a chronic illness, individuals often learn to lead productive and satisfying lives with the help of a psychologist. We will work on techniques for navigating and maintaining healthy relationships, taking care of yourself, and continuing to engage in normal activities and routines. The counseling process serves to remind you that life remains valuable; therapy empowers you to make decisions that will improve your quality of daily living.

The rate of depression among those with chronic medical conditions is significant. Some estimates range as high as 25 to 50 percent. By comparison, the rate of depression is about 5 percent in the otherwise healthy adult population. Depressed feelings are a common response to any prolonged illness. However, physicians are often looking to treat the disease, and may not recognize the signs of depression when they coexist with a chronic illness. In approximately half of the cases, clinical depression is overlooked when treating the medical illness. Proper diagnosis and treatment will not only improve your mood, but your physical health as well.

Did You Know?

  • Failure to recognize and treat co-occurring depression may result in further physical impairment and failure of the medical condition to improve
  • The benefits of treating co-occurring depression include enhanced quality of life, improved medical status, a reduction in the degree of pain and disability, and improved treatment compliance and cooperation
  • Chronic illness places one at risk for further physical or emotional compromise
  • The same neurotransmitters that are affected by chronic pain are also implicated in depression
  • The presence of a strong support system significantly impacts one’s ability to adapt to and cope with major health problems
  • The stressors present just prior to the onset of illness (marital problems, job loss, moving, etc.) are factors in how one copes with their chronic illness
  • Personality plays a factor in coping with stressful life events such as the occurrence of a chronic or disabling health condition

An older black woman mournfully looks out her window

A Caring Psychologist for the Treatment of Depression

Many people fail to realize that depression is a medical condition that benefits from medical treatment. Instead, those afflicted with the condition end up struggling without treatment. The result can affect the sufferer’s family, work, and overall physical. Fortunately, there is hope. If you have any reservations about calling me for help, here are some reasons why professional care for depression helps.

Depression Is Treatable

The condition is more than “the blues,” and it can be treated with medication as well as various therapies. Depression psychologists such as myself specialize in talk and group therapy that helps patients manage their symptoms and rediscover peace. I work in conjunction with your psychiatrist who prescribes your medications and monitors your medical treatment for depression. Together, your psychiatrist and I will make a treatment plan to get you on the road to recovery.

Medication Isn’t the Only Solution

My job as your psychologist is to get to the root of the depression with several types of therapy. The process can be lengthy, but along the way, you will learn a lot about yourself and your condition. Just realizing that depression is treatable with more than medication is an important first step in conquering the condition.

Depression Will Not Go Away on its Own

Simply telling yourself to "get over it" or "suck it up" is never a viable cure for depression. Unpacking the feelings and motivations behind the depression itself is the best way to develop the necessary coping skills and life-management tools to overcome it. For chronic depression sufferers, the psychologist’s tips and tools for managing the condition is key to leading a happy and healthy life. My goal is to equip you with the resources you need to restore your wellbeing.

Causes of Depression

There are numerous causes of depression, including environmental factors that often take the form of loss (job, divorce, health, and deaths in the family). Biological factors also play a part in depression. Depression may be tied to disturbances in the body's biochemicals that regulate mood and activity. These biochemicals, called neurotransmitters, are substances that carry impulses or messages between nerve cells in the brain. An imbalance in the amount or activity of neurotransmitters can cause disruptions in a person’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Genetic factors also play a role: up to 25 percent of those with depression have a relative who suffers from the condition as well. With services from a psychologist, however, you can manage your depression symptoms for a happier and more productive life.

Types of Depression

  • Unipolar depression: this is what we typically refer to as depression.
  • Bipolar depression: this is what we used to call manic depression, and it is characterized by marked periods of euphoria and heightened energy followed by periods of intense sadness.
  • Seasonal affective disorder: this is a form of depression during the fall and winter months, when natural sunlight is more limited.

Contact Laura Thomas, Ph.D. to schedule your appointment. I provide a personalized approach to therapy for clients in Thousand Oaks, California.

Talk to a licensed therapist about your struggle with chronic illness or depression.
Call (805) 371-1825