As we approach the year-end, Team Psychonephrology would like to thank you all for your continuous support and encouragement throughout our journey together. We would like to recap some of the topics that received the widest viewership.

At the beginning of this year, we started a new blog series, “in conversation series”, where the patients discuss their life with kidney disease and the multitude of changes in their relationships. In conversation with Dr. Hercz, issues of stress, self-esteem and body image change are also touched on. It does not stop there. The onset of any chronic condition also brings on emotional turbulence, variable degrees of depression and anxiety. Most clinical encounters focus solely on the physical effects of the disease,  leaving a vulnerable patient to process the myriad of emotions by themselves. Some patients may benefit from joining a patient support group.

Dealing with trauma is a very complicated and personal experience, with no right or wrong way of addressing it. Where some individuals develop full-blown Post-traumatic Stress Disorder related to these experiences, others may also experience Post-traumatic growth. In most cases, a response of despair and anxiety will coexist with a resilient attitude. Each ought to be equally accepted, and a person should be given the time and space to heal and recover. 

We discussed a crucial role a physician can play during the emotional turmoil of a patient. A Healthy Doctor-patient relationship can work as an excellent guide in helping manage difficult times and in understanding that what the patient feels emotionally is not wrong or unusual. A small gesture from a physician, like a simple touch, can be a very powerful way to convey a message that the healthcare team cares for them. A positive environment gives patients a channel to express their concerns in a collaborative manner, which is beneficial to all. Communication in healthcare settings is ideally a two-way street and the healthcare team should also be on the lookout for non-verbal messages.

The role of caregivers was also addressed in nurture a Chronically Ill Patient’s Mental Health. Often caregivers are overburdened and stressed with providing care for their loved ones and are at a loss in understanding the emotional turmoil of patients, which can lead to caregiver burnout and a stressed relation between the patient and the caregiver. Compassion fatigue exists and understanding and managing it can help individuals affected by it. One should look for the signs of stress, anxiety, and depression so that proper therapeutic care can be obtained.

Mental resilience gives us tools to process a difficult situation in a levelheaded way, and although attaining mental resilience takes time, effort and practice, it is achievable.  Mindful meditation is one of the effective ways to build your mental resilience.  Another popular method is through journaling.

In 2019 psychonephrology was featured in a podcast titled “Psychonephrology: A Psychodynamic Perspective in the Dialysis Unit”. You can listen to the podcast here.  Our own psychonephrology project won an IPA (International Psychoanalytical Association) award, in the IPA in Health category, You can check Dr. Hercz’s video interview here.

We also started posting in-house videos this year, which you can check here.

We wanted to take this opportunity to thank you once again for being a part of Team Psychonephrology. We will come back in 2020 with more content with the hope of providing our audience with more resources in navigating chronic illness.

Wishing you all the best for the holidays and Happy New Year!