Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease that progresses over time, similar to that of Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. These diseases typically target the neurons in the brain and spinal cord regions. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease in common culture. As seen here, Sandra Bullock’s long-time partner recently passed after his battle with ALS.
Neurodegenerative diagnoses not only create havoc for a person’s physical wellbeing but also their emotional and psychological wellness. The toll these diseases take on each person’s life is unique to each person living with the disease.
Emotional and Psychological Effects of Neurodegenerative Diseases
No place is the right place to start with this topic as everyone’s experience reading this will be different. But we’ll try our best.
- Guilt/shame – questions of why me/why now?; changes in ability to enjoy and live life; burdensomeness related to the care you need from you support network.
- Loss of identity – difficulties related to functioning changes how and why you do things in life. Maybe you are able to still function as the illness is in its early stages. As the disease progresses learning how to live out your values in different, creative ways can be meaningful and decrease stress.
- Depression – related to the awareness of how your life changes from here. It is not uncommon for people to lose motivation or interest in things when they face this type of challenge.
- Little ‘t’ trauma(s) can pop up– as it relates to the possible overwhelming emotions and/or numbness associated with the disease and progression.
Can Anything Be Done?
In terms of the diseases themselves there may be multiple factors that may influence the slowing of the disease; however, that is not the focal point of this blog post. But best to discuss this with your medical doctor.
In terms of the mental health components – a therapist near you can support processing the noted emotional and psychological effects of neurodegenerative disorders above. Mental health therapy can target and help resolve dysfunctional forms of trauma, guilt, shame, and loss of identity. Additionally, therapy may also be beneficial for people in your support system.
What Therapies Can Help with the Emotional and Psychological Effects of Neurodegenerative Diseases?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a form of psychotherapy that support people in creating acceptance, defusion, present-moment focus, sense-of-self and focuses on values and committed action.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is another form of psychotherapy that can help resolve dysfunctional thoughts, emotions, and sensations in your body.
A Mental Health Therapist in Denver, CO
If you or someone you know is has been diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease, working with a local therapist can help both the individual themselves and/or their support network navigate the emotional and psychological complexities associated with this. Call now to see how therapy may help you or your loved ones.