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The Truth About Invisible Illnesses


When we think of illnesses, we often picture ailments visible on the surface. These conditions are easy to label because we can see the symptoms with our own eyes. However, not all illnesses are visible on the outside. These “invisible illnesses” are medical conditions that are not outwardly visible to others. Common ones include:


  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Celiac disease
  • Lupus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Migraines
  • Depression and anxiety


Many of these cause chronic pain and fatigue. People diagnosed with such conditions may find it difficult to function and preserve energy. Because these illnesses are not visible on the surface, others may assume the diagnosed individual is not truly sick. Even medical professionals may deny that a patient has an illness.


Invisible illnesses are not easily diagnosed. Unlike other conditions, many of these cannot be detected by a blood test. Instead, patients must explain their symptoms to their doctor. It can take years just to confirm one diagnosis. For instance, the average diagnosis period for fibromyalgia is about 6.5 years. Physicians who are knowledgeable and willing to believe what the patient is expressing can help achieve a quicker diagnosis.


There are ways to cope with these illnesses. Awareness of the invisible illness community is growing more than ever. This group provides a sense of support for those who are struggling with underlying conditions. Oftentimes, referrals within this community can be helpful for those looking for a doctor who best fits their needs. In addition, seeking mental health support may also help patients who are struggling.


If you are looking for tips to help you cope with your illness, our  ways to get care page provides various resources on how to best deal with your condition. BCBS FEP also offers many  incentives, such as the Hypertension Management Program, for members with high blood pressure.