Stress can greatly reduce a person’s ability to heal properly.

When it comes to wound healing, there are a number of factors that can impede or diminish a patient’s overall success. But beyond aspects like age, nutrition and other medical conditions, a person’s diet, mental health and emotional well-being have an equally powerful influence on a wound care regimen. Understanding the effect your mental state has on the state of wounds is important, and can help you maintain the proper balance to aid in your recovery. Here is some invaluable insight into mental health as it relates to healing wounds:

Social support

For those people living with chronic wounds, it’s easy to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. Continued treatment, in addition to possible mobility issues, make it hard to maintain interpersonal relationships. However, as a 2008 review in Current Opinion in Psychiatry revealed, having a social support system can actually improve your health. The review cites a number of different studies, and each one demonstrates that having the support of friends and family can reduce morbidity rates and increase overall quality of life with a number of conditions, including heart disease, breast cancer and certain metabolic syndromes. That’s why it’s so important to take a teamwork-inspired approach to any wound care regimen. Patients will need a person with whom you can share your feelings, help plan out treatments and daily routines, research new drugs and treatment options, and turn to when feeling overwhelmed by your condition.

These feelings of isolation can also lead to depression. As several studies have shown, older people with depression experience much slower rates of healing. Luckily, being social is also a way to stay better engaged and effectively confront your emotions.

Emotional stress

No matter what you might encounter during your wound care regimen, some level of stress is inevitable. Part of that is that Americans as a whole are already quite stressed out; a survey from the American Psychological Association found that 22 percent of people in the U.S. report a near-perpetual state of stress. And a slew of studies have proven one thing: stress can greatly affect the wound healing process. A 2012 study found that the 25 percent of participants with highest stress levels reported slower healing times and significantly more pain. A 2013 study in Wounds Research found that a majority of doctors believe that stress can greatly impede healing in burn patients. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to relieve stress. That includes working out regularly, peaceful meditation and writing out your feelings and stressors in a journal.

Ultimately, you may have to speak with your primary physician if you’re feeling overly stressed. He or she can help find ways not only for you to vent these feelings and frustrations, but also to modify your treatment plan to eliminate or minimize potential stressors.

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