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Losing something as precious as your vision can cause a range of emotions. It’s common, expected and hopefully temporary to feel down in the wake of a diagnosis of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). What’s important to know is that while living with AMD may present challenges, most people eventually come to terms with their diagnosis and settle into this new normal to live happy and productive lives.
Many people experience grief when diagnosed with AMD, especially if there’s already some vision loss. If you’re experiencing a profound sense of loss, know that it’s not unusual and that as with any grief, your emotions may go through several stages before you settle into your new normal: denial, anger, depression and then acceptance. You may have experienced these feelings before with a previous loss. If so, you’ll know that you need to give yourself a little time to adjust.
For some people, the unpredictability of AMD can be emotionally unsettling. Macular degeneration presents so many unknowns: Will my vision stay the same or worsen, and how quickly? Will I be able to remain independent or will I need to rely on others? When will I have to stop driving? These are just some of the many concerns that can negatively impact your mental wellbeing. One way to cope is to remind yourself that many people with significant vision loss continue to live independently or with some help at home.
Many of the recommendations that doctors give patients who are going emotional distress after, say, the loss of a loved one will help support you during your journey with AMD.
You may find yourself needing to revisit these actions during the course of your disease if it progresses. If you have a sudden loss of vision, or develop AMD in the other eye, or go from dry to wet AMD, you may re-experience what you felt on first being diagnosed. So whatever you’re feeling, it’s a good idea to tune in to your emotions and learn what helps you feel better. The coping mechanisms you develop now will help your build resilience for whatever comes your way.
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Sometimes, despite our best efforts to curb sadness, it doesn’t lift. This could mean you have clinical depression. If you experiencing the following symptoms more days than not, tell your healthcare provider.