Individuals with eye conditions that may become severe may experience stress due to anxiety or depression. But there are several ways that ophthalmologists can use to help their patients reduce these depressive symptoms, and it can start simply with the doctor’s tone of voice.
- Be Mindful Of Your Words. When you are talking with your patient, be aware of the words that come out of your mouth. As much as you can, try to be positive in explaining to him the course of his condition and the corresponding treatment. Eye conditions like glaucoma or macular degeneration can undeniably lead to blindness, but the doctor can focus on the compliance of the patient, that if he religiously takes his medications and other instructions, the prognosis can be positive and treatment is possible.
A seasoned ophthalmologist says that he tells his patients that if they comply with their medicines daily, it will remind them that what they have might be blinding, but it might not be blinding for them. There is nothing wrong with giving hope and alleviating their depression, and you can help patients cope. He also recalls having patients who are extremely anxious and worried about their eye condition and him comforting them by saying that as far as he can remember, anxiety and worry have never healed someone of any disease. “It’s normal to go through grief, but staying there doesn’t help.”
- Conceal Your Anxieties. No matter how much doctors deny it, they do experience anxiety over their patients’ conditions, and often if they are unable to hide them, they somehow transmit these to their patients, further aggravating the way they feel about themselves. A wiser and more practical thing to do is to feel hopeful and to stick to the facts when explaining to their patients about their glaucoma, optic neuropathy, or other eye diseases. You have that power, so use it.
- Tell Your Patient that He Is Part Of The Team. This is true, and it must be communicated to the patient. Controlling and treating glaucoma cannot be done solely by the patient’s ophthalmologist, but rather, it is a team effort that includes the patient himself. It is the patient’s responsibility to follow the given treatment regimen so that there are fewer chances of functional loss. By expressing this to your patient, you are giving him the power to have control over his eye condition. Additionally, you can explain to him that there are also other physicians, resident doctors, and technicians who are working with you to help make him as comfortable as possible.
- Encourage Them To Learn About Their Condition. Patients can feel more in control if they are well educated about their eye condition. Encourage them to read or research about glaucoma or other eye problems. This will also help reduce his depression, knowing that there are many ways that he can do at home to alleviate his condition in case he feels pain or discomfort. Some patients are more eager than others, so their doctors teach them how to monitor their IOPs.
- Referral To A Mental Health Professional Is Necessary. Sometimes, patients tend to become too anxious and worried that they are unable to cope and even monitor their disease. These patients may benefit from therapy, and physicians recommend that they consult with a mental health professional to help themselves deal with their condition better. You must be able to clearly explain to the patient and his family the reason why their loved one may need therapy. Some families are offended by this recommendation, but in most cases, they would cooperate.
Lastly, instill patience and understanding in your patient – patience in himself and a thorough understanding of his disease. Be with your patient as he journeys through alleviation and recovery, which should be done one day at a time.