As per discussed in a previous article by Joe Cosgrove, renal and chronic kidney disease is a motley, often multi-sphered issue which the vast majority of times, to say the least, affects patients in both physical and psychological ways. In fact, many things have been said about the correlation between the existent treatments for kidney disease and a sheer array of the aforementioned connotations. Actually, the scientific community stresses the importance of developing a multidisciplinary approach in order to manage these patients properly. Mental health professionals and nephrologists are now compelled to work hand in hand more than ever in order to come up with a somewhat holistic management approach for individuals suffering any degree of kidney disease.
As said earlier, a staggering amount of individuals suffering from renal and kidney disease oftentimes depict several psychological problems, most of which require individualized and non-systematic treatment. The most plausible reason behind the existence of these psychological issues might be related to the fact that patients and individuals suffering from renal failure find themselves dependant on a machine, a treatment or procedure and, additionally, a group of highly qualified health professionals for the rest of their life. In fact, no other medical condition depicts such a high degree of dependence for the treatment to be effective. It is no secret that a procedure such as dialysis is no less than stressful due to its nature, and it actually worsens every time patients do not have at hand proper education regarding the procedure and the possible aftermath. Besides, there is also a considerable amount of restrictions when it comes to foods and fluids, which, of course, contributes to the development of the aforementioned mental and psychological problems.
Individuals with kidney and renal disease often times also suffer from other conditions, which forces them to be on a sheer array of additional medications. The vast majority of these medications have been traditionally linked to causing psychiatric and mental issues: confusion and agitation, for example, have been linked with other medical conditions such as electrolyte imbalances, hypertension, hypoglycemia, aluminum poisoning, dialysis dementia and so on.
But be that as it may, the most common, sometimes traditional, psychiatric issue and complication occurring due to the pre-existence of renal failure is depression in the individual and anxiety, of course, in an associated partner should they have them. The vast majority of individuals undergoing dialysis who still keep their jobs rarely regain their full-time work schedule and activity. Psychologists often assert that work, or any similar activity, in addition to being the basic source of income, is often associated with a higher feeling such as accomplishment, self-esteem and other positive connotations in the vast majority of patients. The current, and widely accepted, treatment for something like depression would obviously include therapy, psychotherapy, and antidepressants. There are some special considerations when it comes to dealing with patients suffering from end-stage renal disease, as the use of antidepressants might interfere with the treatment.
Today’s pharma industry has managed to create a sheer array of antidepressant medications for the proper management of a condition such as depression; however, each of these may end up having different effects on an individual’s renal function, although the vast majority of these meds are safe to some extent. Likewise, no studies have compared depression in patients with ambulatory peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis; but it seems that those undergoing the former experience milder depression symptoms.
If one were to explore the correlation between dialysis and depression much further, the subject of an existing suicidal behavior tendency would definitely appear. Several studies have found and subsequently shown that those individuals undergoing dialysis have higher suicide rates unlike the normal healthy population. It is also important to say that, when feeling the nagging discomfort of depression, those people on dialysis have at their disposal the most effective method of escaping such scenario: suicide. Just by missing several dialysis sessions or ingesting higher quantities of potassium can result in an inexorable death.
Aside from suicidal behavior, the second most common phenomenon observed in people undergoing dialysis is delirium, mostly explained by the existing electrolyte imbalance that often times occur after a dialysis session, often dubbed as the “dialysis disequilibrium syndrome”. The causes may definitely also include anemia, uremia, amongst others. As with depression, the adequate management depends on each case. Case-by-case allows physicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists to detect the existence of delirium much earlier. Some ameliorative medications and benzodiazepines are, to some extent, useful in this scenario.
Alongside delirium and suicidal behavior, dialysis patients also experience extreme anxiety—especially somatic symptoms such as faster palpitations, chest pain, shortage of breath, intense sweating and the known fear of dying; however, many times the aforementioned symptoms are not systematically related with a special trigger and may, on the contrary, occur all of a sudden.
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