Humor and Chronic Kidney Disease

Illness causes worry and stress in Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) patients. Dealing with changes to your body from surgery, infection, blood pressure fluctuations, and more may cause you to have negative emotions that can lead to an unhealthy mental state. This will likely affect your dialysis treatment. A study by The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine confirmed that people with severe diseases, such as CKD, have better survival chances if they have a sense of humor and can laugh easily.

While it is sometimes difficult to believe, you do have a choice in how you feel. This choice provides you with some amount of control over your situation. Laughter is an inexpensive medicine that is often under used. How many times have you heard, “Laughter is the best medicine?” But how frequently do you take the time out of your busy day to have a good laugh or lighthearted moment? When you laugh, you are displaying a full range of positive emotions including love, hope, faith, will to live, festivity, purpose, and determination.

Dealing with changes in your body, losing kidney function, getting an access, the dialysis diet and fitting in doctor and dialysis appointments can trigger resentment and anger. Sometimes these negative emotions can overwhelm and lead to an unhealthy mental state that can affect how your body responds to dialysis and other treatments for end stage renal disease (ESRD).

While it is sometimes difficult to believe, we do have a choice in how we feel. This choice gives us some amount of control over any situation. It can take a huge effort to feel happy and grateful when we believe our circumstances warrant otherwise, especially for those who have recently found out they have kidney disease or must begin dialysis. However, laughter and a sense of humor can help relieve some stress and add lightheartedness to even the most challenging moments.

In late 2006, The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine reported that people with severe diseases, such as chronic kidney disease, have better survival chances if they have a sense of humor and can laugh easily. The study was performed by scientists from the Nor­we­gian University of Sci­ence and St. Olav’s Hos­pi­tal in Trond­heim, Nor­way on people with end stage renal disease who were on dialysis. According to the results, people who scored higher on having a sense of humor increased their odds for survival by about 31 percent.

Many doctors and health care professionals recognize the benefits of humor in their dialysis patients. While it is understandable for people to be nervous for their first few dialysis sessions, once patients start feeling better physically and get used to the dialysis routine, it becomes easier for them to lighten up. Many renal dietitians will offer education in the form of entertaining games such as Bingo. The camaraderie that develops between dialysis patients and the health care professionals at the dialysis center can be a source of humor.

Humor and laughter can be positive distractions from stressful situations and can diffuse some of the negative emotions. A hearty laugh can lighten a mood for several minutes or several hours. While everyone has their own idea of what is funny, being able to find humor in any situation can help us deal with anything life throws at us.

Some days it can be difficult to find anything to laugh about, but when you do, the rewards are great. Humor is a gift you give yourself and others. There are many things in life that need to be taken seriously, such as watching your dialysis diet, going to your dialysis treatments for the full time and listening to your health care team. But humor can be serious business, too, especially when it is used as an effective therapy for your physical and mental health.

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