After chronic kidney disease is diagnosed, many people experience a range of emotions. Initially there may be disbelief that this is happening to you.

When the reality hits, you may go through a period of mourning for the loss of your kidney function. Many people talk about grieving for their previous health, abilities and life before chronic kidney disease.

It’s common to experience frustration, despair, fear, a sense of lack of control and depression, especially if you’re going to need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

As kidney disease progresses, the treatment can stop you from doing the things you need to do in your daily life or prevent you enjoying fun things you usually do.

Some lifestyle changes may seem trivial, like limiting social engagements or shifting housework to a partner, yet they can be important and may signal changes in relationships, such as greater dependence on others.

Mental health problems may develop because:

  • adapting to living with chronic kidney disease is stressful for the individual and family members
  • you may feel your body and general situation are out of control, and there is nothing you can do about it
  • you can feel lonely and isolated from family and friends
  • it can be difficult to talk about illness with those close to you because you don't want to worry or upset them.

Knowing this, there are a number of things you can do to help yourself cope emotionally.

Links to fact sheets and other helpful information can be found here: Resources

Coping with emotions

Some emotions only last for a short time. It’s okay to be angry, sad or fearful, or to cry, shout or withdraw occasionally. However, this should not continue all the time.

Physical activity, a healthy diet, supporting others, hobbies and being involved in a community can help to keep your mind and body healthy.

Talking with others who have had similar experiences may also help you, especially if they are now back in control of their lives and doing well.

A loved one or a trusted health professional can often provide enough support to work through your emotions. Social workers and psychologists are trained to listen to your worries and help you find solutions.

Your doctor can refer you to an appropriately trained health professional.

You can also find further advice at Beyond Blue

Links to fact sheets and other helpful information can be found here: Resources


People with chronic kidney disease are at increased risk of depression. Around one in five people with chronic kidney disease have depression, with the figure being even higher for people on dialysis.

There are many reasons why people with chronic kidney disease are more likely to suffer from depression. It can be a reaction to your diagnosis, the losses caused by chronic kidney disease (such as time, travel, jobs and physical strength) or the limitations that chronic kidney disease may place on your daily activities.

New research has shown that some of the changes that happen in your body with kidney disease may also make you more prone to suffer from depression.

Here are a few simple questions to help you work out if you may have depression:

  • Do you struggle to get out of bed and do daily activities regularly?
  • Do you feel as if you are surrounded by a black cloud?
  • Do you cry regularly?
  • Do you get angry easily for no reason?
  • Have you stopped paying attention to how you look?
  • Are you eating for comfort or refusing to eat at all?
  • Do you consider harming yourself?

If you answer ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions, let a loved one or friend know how you feel and visit your doctor for advice and treatment.

It may help you to know that depression is treatable. Effective treatment will improve your feelings of wellbeing and your general health.

Links to fact sheets and other helpful information can be found here: Resources

Treatment for depression

Antidepressant medications, psychotherapies or a combination of both are helpful in reducing depression among people with chronic medical conditions.

Psychological treatments help people with depression to manage their mood, change negative patterns of thinking, and improve their coping skills.

Anti-depressant medication can be used safely in chronic kidney disease. Your healthcare team will work with you to find the treatment that works best for you.

Your doctor is the best starting point to seek professional help for depression.

For immediate help, you can contact the national Beyond Blue Infoline on 1300 224 636 or visit their website at

The role of religious or spiritual beliefs

For many people, religious or spiritual beliefs can provide great emotional support. Religious practice may already be an important part of everyday life, with its communities and leaders providing a strong support network, both spiritually and practically.

For others, religion may be something that is occasionally turned to for emotional support at difficult times. There are churches for all denominations in most areas, with leaders or ministers who are willing to offer support. Every hospital has visiting ministers, who will visit regardless of religion.

If you are an Indigenous Australian, it is likely that your spiritual belief will be very important and deeply connected with country. It is important to let your doctor and healthcare team know when you need to go away because of your spiritual needs.

Links to fact sheets and other helpful information can be found here: Resources

Alternative therapies

There are many alternative therapies available that may complement your traditional healthcare. Some research has been done in this area but for many there is little proof of effect.

This does not mean that you may not benefit from alternative therapies. However, it’s important to check the qualifications and experience of those who provide this type of healthcare.

Complementary therapists include:

  • chiropractors
  • naturopaths
  • acupuncturists
  • reflexologists
  • massage therapists.

It’s important to let them know you have chronic kidney disease, especially if they are prescribing medications for you. Likewise, if you are taking alternative medications, be sure to tell your doctor and healthcare team.

Links to fact sheets and other helpful information can be found here: Resources

Health & wellbeingSexuality, fertility & kidney disease
Join our community to download
Join our Kidney Community