Coping with illness

Everybody gets ill from time to time; it is an unfortunate fact of life. Sadly, sometimes these illnesses can be more serious than others. It is then that it is important to try and adapt so everyone involved can cope with the situation as best they can.

When you find out that either you, or someone close to you, are ill, your initial thoughts turn to how serious the illness is. This is a natural feeling to have along with feeling confused and scared.

Denial is also another common reaction to have. The shock of being told you or someone close to you has a serious illness may be one of disbelief. Accepting the facts can be really hard and will not come easy. Don’t keep avoiding the issues though, the longer you leave it the harder things will get.

The sooner you accept will help you to start taking the best possible action. This means following advice from the doctor and learning as much as you can about the illness. Sometimes, it can be just a lack of understanding that makes a situation seem worse than it is.

Understanding the illness

The first step in coping with an illness for everybody involved – the sufferer, family and friends around them – is to fully understand what the illness means. This includes finding out what all the symptoms are and how bad the affects will be for the sufferer.

The best person to speak to about this is your doctor. They are the experts and will tell you exactly how it is.

Learning all the facts will give you the power to take control of your own mental and physical health. In turn this will help you to cope better with the illness.

Support groups

With many serious illnesses, support groups have been set up to help sufferers, their families and friends cope. It is understandable that there is a need for people to talk and share experiences with others who have been through a similarly traumatic time.

With illnesses that are known to be terminal, it can be a particularly distressing time for everyone concerned. Whether you are the sufferer or are a friend or member of the family, you will no doubt feel very down and depressed about the situation. It is important to talk about your feelings rather than bottle them up. By bottling your emotions up you will only make the situation worse and you will continue to feel more down and lonely.

You may find it really hard to speak to a friend or family member about how you are feeling as you may be concerned about worrying them. If this is the case, there are plenty of trained experts that you can talk to, and because they don’t know you, they won’t judge you.


Who can help?

The best people to speak to are your doctor, parents and carers and other family members. These are the people who are closest to you and will know how best to help you.

If you are feeling depressed and lonely because of an illness you can speak to.

You can talk to someone at NHS-Direct – 0845 46 47 – and get advice on self help and support organisations or use their website’s a-z on illnesses, tests and treatments section which will help you understand more about an illness. Visit

Dr Ann’s virtual surgery on the Teenage Health Freak website offers you lots of useful information and advice on a variety of health complaints and illnesses. Find out more at

Youth Health Talk is a website about young people’s real life health experiences, covering topics including teenage cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and sexual health. You can watch videos of young people talking about their experiences and join in the conversation on the forums at

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