Simply Put, What is an Invisible Illness?

Those with an invisible illness deal with questions from people questioning the legitimacy of their disability. On top of being ill, many sufferers find themselves in many hard situations where people do not believe they have an illness. 96% of people dealing with a chronic illness have what is often called an invisible illness.

What Does ‘Invisible Illness’ Mean?

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An invisible illness means that there is no physical sign, like a wheelchair or oxygen tank, to show that they are dealing with a chronic illness. Those with an invisible illness look like any other ordinary person.

Just because you can’t see the pain a person is in or feel their fatigue does not mean that it is fictional. Invisible illness can include all kinds of disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome, AIDS, cancer, fibromyalgia, diabetes and so forth. 9 million Americans are cancer survivors who endure the aftermath and side effects of chemotherapy. 4 million American live with AIDS and 2 million have a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

The Consequences

Invisible illnesses have numerous effects. Here are just a few statistics to illustrate the consequence of being ill:

  • According to a study by the University of Michigan, 31% of married couples who are dealing with a chronic illness end their relationship in divorce.
  • Depression rates are 15-20% higher in those battling an invisible illness due to lack of emotional support.
  • Studies report that those dealing with intractable pain make up 70% of suicides in America and 50% of those patients are under 35.
  • 7 in 10 American deaths are due to a chronic disease.
  • Chronic illnesses are disabling and affect 1 in 10 American, or 25 million people.

Diagnosis, Anxiety, & Believing

Patients find that getting a diagnosis can be just as frustrating as the pain itself. When there aren’t many symptoms, some doctors believe it is easiest to write a pain medication script and brush the patient off. It can take months and sometimes years, of battling pain to get to the bottom of an illness.

That process often leads to anxiety and depression. Then there is the fact that the patient and those around them might not believe there is any illness at play. That the pain is a made up excuse to get drugs. It’s hard enough when your sick, it’s even more challenging when people don’t believe you are ill. Without a diagnosis, this can cause a lot of unnecessary stress.

It is important to believe a patient’s illness and work towards diagnosing the problem instead of consistently medicating it and sending patients on their way. A good example of an invisible illness is Lupus. Lupus can cause a lot of fatigue and pain. Well-known celebrity, Selena Gomez, suffers from it and recently canceled her tour dates due to a flare in her symptoms.

This isn’t the first time her career has been affected by her illness, but it is important for her to know her limits and take breaks as needed. The same should go for everyone in the world. Not just the rich and famous.

Invisible Illness Week runs from 9/26/16 till 10/2/16 this year. Help raise awareness and share this article!


Patients find that getting a diagnosis can be just as frustrating as the pain itself. Click To Tweet It is important to know your limits when dealing with pain. Click To Tweet 96% of people dealing with a chronic illness have what is often called an invisible illness. Click To Tweet
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Danielle Faith is a graduate of the The University of California, Los Angeles with a Degree in Cultural Geography. She know how your location in life (race, religion, economic status, etc.,) influences how you view the world. Today, Danielle Faith is freelance writer and marketing consultant. She specializes in new media marketing and self-improvement. Not to mention, she has a knack for clarity, and over ten years of experience. Danielle has personal experience with chronic pain and illness. Danielle is a survivor and optimist as well as persistent and driven. When she puts her mind to something it gets done. When she is not writing or checking what’s new on social media, she’s listening to music and relaxing with her dog.

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2 Comments on “Simply Put, What is an Invisible Illness?”

  1. The statistics that you show are shocking. I didn’t know that invisible illnesses are such a huge deal. The least that we can do as people is understand what someone is going through and support them so that they don’t become another number. Well put!

  2. As a nurse I find this article to be very helpful and I urge others to read it. Just because you don’t see the scars on people’s bodies does not mean that they are healthy. Some things just hide deeper down that people are used to.

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