Coping with Kidney Failure

Two women sitting together, talking.Having kidney failure means many changes in your health and life. It may feel like too much to cope with at times, but you can learn how to deal with these emotions and feel better about your treatment and yourself. Learning as much as you can about kidney failure is a good place to start. Kidney failure is also called chronic kidney disease. It has 5 stages, from mild to severe, based on whether your kidneys are leaking protein and how well they are filtering your blood.

Understanding your emotions

Living with a medical condition like kidney failure can be very stressful. It is common at times to feel:

  • Angry and frustrated over having to depend on others.

  • Confused about all the instructions you've been given.

  • Worried about things going wrong with your treatment.

  • Upset with side effects of kidney failure or the treatment for it. 

  • Hopeless and depressed about your future.

  • Unhappy with your body. Don't keep these feelings to yourself. Talk with your healthcare team and your loved ones. They may know ways to help.

Accepting your body's changes

Kidney failure and its treatment cause changes in your body. These changes can affect the way you feel about your sexuality. Your desire for and feelings about sex may change. Be open with your partner about your feelings and talk with your healthcare providers. They can help you understand your body's changes.

Finding support

People sometimes find it hard to ask others for help. But it's also hard to face a chronic illness alone. When you need some help or just want to talk, turn to friends, family, and members of your healthcare team. Also consider joining a support group. In a support group, people meet to talk about common problems.  Ask your healthcare provider if there is a kidney failure support group nearby.


These organizations can give you more information on kidney failure. They may also guide you to local resources, such as support groups.

  • American Association of Kidney Patients  800-749-2257

  • American Kidney Fund  866-300-2900

  • National Kidney Foundation  800-622-9010

  • National Kidney Disease Education Program 800-860-8747