Psychological impact of Meniere’s disease

Meniere’s disease doesn’t only affect you physically. The symptoms of this condition can affect all facets of your life including employment, family relationships, sporting and social activities.This in turn can undermine your psychological well-being – your confidence, self-esteem and sense of independence.

Most people diagnosed with Meniere’s experience a prolonged process of psychological adjustment before coming to terms with their condition. The various phases in this process are outlined below.

Phase One: Denial

This may be the longest phase if attacks of symptoms are infrequent. During this early phase you may:

  • deny – to yourself and others (excuses) – difficulties caused by Meniere’s
  • harbour fearful thoughts
  • lose confidence and self esteem

Phase 2: Anger

As the disease progresses you may:

  • experience feelings of anger, resentment and frustration – ‘why me?’
  • acknowledge but not yet accept the diagnosis of Meniere’s
  • blame others and doubt their ability to help
  • feel overwhelmed and confused

Professional and family support is vital during this phase.

Phase 3: Bargaining

During this phase you may still not accept the impact of Meniere’s on your life:

  • You may make bargains with yourself to ‘fix’ the condition so life will return to normal e.g. stop smoking, lose weight, change your diet, try alternative treatments.
  • When these actions have no major effect your reactions may alternate between anger and more bargaining.

Phase 4: Depression

This is generally the lowest point in the process of adjustment. Internalised anger can lead you to:

  • withdraw from life
  • suffer disrupted sleep and eating patterns
  • experience emotional disturbances
  • focus on loss and feel negative
  • feel that life is not worth living

Phase 5: Resolution and acceptance

Gradually, through a process of self-questioning, feelings of anger, frustration and denial are resolved and you become more hopeful and positive:

  • You begin to accept the diagnosis and understand what living with Meniere’s entails.
  • You recognise and accept your own limitations, understand what triggers vertigo attacks etc.
  • You realise that YOU must take control ie. make decisions and follow through with action.
  • You implement coping strategies eg wear a hearing aid, join a support group, undertake balance rehabilitation, seek out more information.
  • You re-evaluate priorities so that you take care of yourself.
  • You understand and meet your own needs.
  • You regain independence, strength and the ability to lead a fulfilling life.