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How to Emotionally Support Someone with Hep C

Learn simple and appreciated ways to help someone cope with hepatitis C.

If someone you love has hepatitis C, caring for them involves more than just making sure they have the right prescriptions and are regularly seeing a doctor. Like with many chronic conditions, the physical aspects of this illness are only part of what a diagnosed person deals with. Any potentially life-threatening disease can take a toll on someone's emotional and mental health, and hep C is no exception.

If the person you're thinking of has been recently diagnosed, you may need to be extra sensitive to their situation. Hep C usually doesn't have any symptoms, so the diagnosis can come as a total shock. And looking forward, you'll need to provide emotional support during every step of their treatment journey. Here are four simple ways to do just that.

Get Informed
Your goal is to show empathy. And to do that, you need to understand the disease and what your friend is going through as much as you can. This also means encouraging them to research their condition themselves and separate fact from fiction. The more informed they are, the more confident they'll be in making decisions about their treatment.

It's also important to be aware of the stigma that's often associated with hep C. This stigma can have a huge impact on your loved one's mental health, and it's important for you to understand the emotional storm they're weathering. Once you understand hep C's stigma, you can start to battle it by making it clear to others that it's not your loved one's fault that they have hep C.

Say the Right Thing
Want to show patience, affection and gratitude, but not sure how? Offer to go with them to doctor's appointments. Inspire them to get back into old hobbies and activities. Invite them on a walk, treat them to a movie or just enjoy a little TV together.

You can also offer to drive them to a support group or attend the meeting with them if they'd like. Support groups are a priceless resource for many people living with hep C. Find out if there are any local meetups and ask your loved one to go.

Sometimes, the most meaningful way to show you care is just through conversation. And if your loved one is depressed or feeling overwhelmed, you'll want to make sure you say the right things that can lift their spirits. Use phrases like:

  • I'm here for you and I'm not going anywhere. You're not alone.
  • What can I do to help?
  • You're important to me.
  • There are ways to get through this. If you'd like to talk to someone professional, I can help you sort that out.
  • You can survive this. This won't last forever.

Stop the Spread
Hep C can't be spread through hugging, kissing or holding hands, so don't let a fear of getting infected stand in your way.

However, you should be careful about sharing certain personal items, such as toothbrushes and razors. If your romantic partner has hep C, you may also want to talk about safer sex. While it's uncommon to get hep C in these ways, it doesn't hurt to be vigilant.

Take Care of Yourself, Too
It's hard to help someone else if you're not well, so taking care of yourself is critical. As your bond with this person grows, you may experience caregiver fatigue, stress and depression. You may often feel guilty. Try to let go of these negative feelings and be sure to set aside some relaxing "me time" to decompress from the day.

While you're reaching out to help someone else, remember to get enough sleep, exercise regularly and eat well. And if you're feeling too overwhelmed, find someone else to help both you and your loved one.

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