Psychological Support

Facilitating and enhancing the ability to self-care and cope with the psychological (as well as the physical) impact of lipoedema is important for successful long-term management. Like any other chronic, long-term condition, this should ideally be:

  • Person centred
  • Empathetic
  • Realistic
  • Positive 

However, there may be many potential barriers preventing successful support and these should be addressed. The Lipoedema Best Practice Guidelines suggest  barriers may include a lack of knowledge and skills, low self-esteem, poor relationships with healthcare professionals, previous ineffective care and advice, and inaccurate and misleading information.

Embarking on a holistic approach between the patient and an experienced therapist will be very helpful and allow a healthcare professional to play a key role in supporting and empowering a patient to adjust to the diagnosis of lipoedema, engage in self-help and seek help from other sources where necessary.

Support may be provided in many ways; by your GP or a healthcare professional, through online information resources, educational videos, printed information and the introduction to peer groups. Peer groups may include:

  1. LipoedemaUK
  2. Talk Lipoedema
  3. Lymphoedema Support Network
  4. Local lipoedema support groups

Peer-led support groups where patients meet others with similar conditions play a particularly useful role in reducing isolation and empowering each other, to face personal difficulties, and find coping mechanisms. 

These groups also help to raise awareness of lipoedema, and may help to form a voice to assist in making local changes in provision of more positive lipoedema care and management.

Personal, One to one dialogue between a patient and a therapist may be the most helpful way to find the right approach to manage the condition.

However, referral to the following may also help some patients who are struggling to adjust with the diagnosis or treatment of lipoedema:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Counselling (group or individual sessions) - referral by the GP
  • Mindfulness

CBT is an approach to treatment focussing on solving problems and learning skills to help increase confidence and well-being. It helps to assist with focus, clarity and motivation, and results in increased personal effectiveness, and an improved sense of fulfilment and resilience.

Self-care is vital to help improve psychological care. Ensuring correct and appropriate information about health and lifestyle such as maintaining a healthy diet, exercise, or using compression hosiery (when appropriate) – is essential. 

Other self-help tools to improve psychological care

NHS approved computer-based programs (free access available on prescription via the GP) may help e.g.

  • Fear Fighter (phobias and panic attacks)
  • Beating the Blues (mild- moderate depression)
  • Mind Over Mood (Christine Padesky) is a self-help CBT manual which may be completed alone, or with support – www.padesky.com
  • Free on-line courses for HCP’s: www.rcgp.org.uk

M-A-G-I-C wellness training and coaching (www.zanziuk.com) is another way that patients may help themselves to cope on a psychological level. It may help to increase confidence and well-being, helps with focus, clarity and motivation, results in increased personal effectiveness and an improved sense of fulfilment and resilience:

M – Mindfulness

A – An increased awareness of thoughts/emotions  

G – Goal setting and Grit

I – Insight, intuition

C – Choice and commitment