Overcoming Depression and Living With Charcot Marie Tooth Disease

by guest blogger Valerie Johnston, a health and fitness writer

Studies show that people who suffer from debilitating diseases tend to have a higher risk of depression. It can be a struggle getting up every day when you have a major medical condition. Despite what the name would seem to indicate, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is not a disease of the teeth, but rather a very serious nerve disorder that can make leading a normal life difficult. People who suffer from CMT experience a progressive weakness in the extremities due to a weakening of the nerves. Sometimes tasks like standing, walking, and picking things up can all become extremely difficult. CMT tends to progress over time, and when the symptoms make it difficult to live a “normal life”, depression could become an issue for some.
What is CMT?

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease seems like an odd name for a nerve disorder, but the name comes from the three doctors that first discovered the condition. The condition is genetic. It will be present from birth, though the symptoms may not present until adolescence or adulthood. The disease affects the peripheral nerves, which ultimately affects motor function in the extremities. The peripheral nerves become damaged, which leads to muscle weakness and a loss of feeling starting with the tips of the hands or feet. As the disease gets progressively worse, the weakness and loss of function will affect the lower legs and forearms as well. The nerve damage can cause mild to severe pain, which adds to the difficulty of living with the disease. There is no cure for the disease, though pain and symptoms can be dealt with through surgery and pain management.

Focus on the Positives

It can be difficult to get up out of bed on the mornings on the bad days, when you have extreme pain or can hardly move your arms and legs. Sometimes all you need to feel better is to take a step back and put things in perspective. CMT is a disease that progresses very slowly, so in between those bad days, you can probably have a number of pretty good days. You might not be able to live a completely normal life, but you should take every advantage of living life in the moment, even if you do have to make certain adaptations. Enjoy every healthy moment you have! Many people with CMT live a relatively normal life, even if they do need help with fine motor functions like opening a jar or walking up stairs. People with CMT still have a normal life span, and with proper management of their condition, can live a happy life with little to no pain.

You Are Not Your Disability

It is important to not let CMT define who you are. You might not be able to do everything that a healthier person can, but that doesn’t make you a broken or disabled person. Approaching your disease with the right attitude will go a long way to overcoming depression. Many people with CMT don’t even see themselves as disabled. They might need help with some things, or might stumble and fall sometimes, but they do not let this get in their way. Find something to do with your time to help keep yourself from dwelling on your nerve pain. You might enjoy spending time with friends, reading, volunteering or learning. CMT might affect your nerves and your muscles, but it doesn’t affect your intellect. If your physical disabilities are getting you depressed, try taking a class in a subject that interests you. You can still exercise your mind, even on the days when your body doesn’t want to seem to cooperate. Trying to take a more positive approach to your condition will go a long way to helping you avoid becoming depressed.

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.


This entry was posted in Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, CMT, Health CMT, neuromuscular disease, peripheral neuropathy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Overcoming Depression and Living With Charcot Marie Tooth Disease

  1. Gwen says:

    Thanks for sharing Valerie!


    • john says:

      Valerie is full of crap , CMT shapes everything about you starting at a very young age “try taking a class” are you kidding with this mindless babble.


      • cmtny says:

        Sorry you feel that way John. CMT effects everyone differently, even within the same family. One child may be in a wheel chair while a sibling may show little signs of having a nerve disorder. Valerie’s suggestions can be helpful to others. I myself have enjoyed taking various computer, photography & writing classes. Anything to keep busy rather than sitting at home feeling miserable about my deteriorating condition. One thing I disagree with is how many say that CMT is slowly progressive. Any worsening of symptoms does not seem to be slow enough.


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