Which Is More Important: Physical or Mental Health?

Wendy Caroline avatar

by Wendy Caroline |

Share this article:

Share article via email
living, mental health

When I was in high school, an informational book about cystic fibrosis made its way to me. As I read through it, I found a section on mental health. It stated something along the lines of, “Although CF carries a lot of emotional baggage, depression is not a common comorbidity.” (My words, not theirs.)

My rooted belief in the importance of physical health grew deeper. I now realize that I am fortunate not to have developed depression. Even if the statistics in the book were correct at the time (this was over 10 years ago), people with terminal diseases are still at a greater risk for developing clinical depression.

Regardless, the emphasis of my care has been on my physical health. How are my lungs doing? What can we do to extend the time between hospitalizations? Are there treatments we can add to alleviate the physical deterioration of my body?

During a recent CF clinic visit, my team followed up on some symptoms I have been having that are likely side effects of the medication Trikafta that are exacerbated by the pandemic. My symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, and signs of depression. My team and I talked in depth about how I have been doing and what my treatment options are.

At one point, my doctor mentioned she was hesitant to stop Trikafta because of how much it has benefited my physical health. I was shocked. That thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. Trikafta gave me my body back.

My team is not considering stopping Trikafta, but my doctor’s comment leads me to my point. After reflecting on the conversations at that appointment, I couldn’t shake the realization that although Trikafta has done wonders for my physical health, it has really damaged my mental health.

On many days, I sit around, unable to focus or get off the couch. I am seemingly frozen in the same position I was in when my lungs were plagued with diseased mucus — only a different reason is behind it this time.

But there is no doubt the medication has saved my physical body. This leads me to a strange question. Which is more important: physical or mental health?


Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.


Judy Moreland avatar

Judy Moreland

Thank you for writing this. I have been depressed for a long time but much more so in the last 8-9 months. I thought the coronavirus, my husband's ill health, the horrible political situation, and CF (I hate doing airway clearance treatments) accounted for the increase in the depression. I didn't think of Trikafta because my physical health is better on it. I can relate to your saying "On many days, I sit around, unable to focus or get off the couch." I spend a lot of time switching from email to Facebook. Thank you for the insight.

Judy Moreland 71 with CF

Wendy Caroline avatar

Wendy Caroline

Hi Judy, I absolutely understand. It can be complicated to try to sift through the many factors that come with being human. My theory, for myself, is that Trikafta planted the seed, and the pandemic is just exacerbating my mental struggles. I have spent a lot of time confined to a hospital room or my home due to physical health. I have never had symptoms of anxiety or depression prior to now. In fact, I specifically bought a home that I truly enjoy spending time in with lots of natural light due to the amount of time that I was home-bound prior to Trikafta. My team brought up the pandemic and I do believe that is a piece of it. I think there is also value in our gut feelings, especially because we know ourselves best. I have heard of many others having these side effects from Trikafta, otherwise, I would likely brush it off too. One of my favorite things about writing these columns is to dissect pieces of my life through thoughtful words and that others can resonate with them too. I hope you are hanging in there. Thank you for commenting and connecting!


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.