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The Emotional Toll of Psoriatic Arthritis

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Is Depression Common With Psoriatic Arthritis? continued...

Common signs of depression may include:

  • Disturbances in sleep patterns
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Weight loss or gain (5% of body weight)
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired thinking
  • Thoughts of dying or suicide
  • Depressed thoughts or irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Staying at home all the time
  • Avoidance of special friends
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty getting out of bed
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Agitation, or, in contrast, a general slowing of intentional bodily activity

If you have any of these signs, talk with your doctor about depression diagnosis and treatment. Often depression is temporary. If needed, there are many excellent depression medications and other forms of therapy that may help greatly.

How Can I Feel Better Emotionally With Psoriatic Arthritis?

While there is no quick fix for resolving any of the detrimental emotions of psoriatic arthritis, you can take measures to deal with these emotions in a positive way, so they do not hinder your personal goals and relationships.

It's important to get regular exercise and physical activity to ease stiff joints, strengthen muscles and increase cardiovascular health. In addition, exercise can help boost your mood, if you're feeling low, and ease bottled-up emotional stress.

If your joints are painful and walking is difficult, you might try aquatics or water exercises. The buoyancy of water helps support your weight during a workout, allowing you to exercise without impact, strengthen your muscles to support your joints, and build your cardiovascular endurance. Check with your local YMCA for a water exercise class.

Stress can trigger your psoriatic arthritis pain, so finding ways to de-stress is important. Many patients with arthritis use yoga, tai chi, qigong, and stretching exercises to ease daily stress and increase relaxation and flexibility. In addition, the relaxation response, experienced with mind/body therapies such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, or biofeedback, can help you develop conscious control over body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and pain response. Talk to your doctor or therapist for more information about relaxation therapies.

Why Is Social Support Important With Psoriatic Arthritis?

Social support is defined as the sum of all the relationships that make you feel as if you matter to the people who matter to you. Studies have verified that a strong group of family members and close friends or a support system (doctors, nurses, other health care professionals) can help in coping with a chronic illness. In some cases, having a strong social network is associated with greater compliance with medication regimens and the use of health services.

When you are tied emotionally to those in your social network, you can express your innermost feelings of fear, insecurity, and guilt and receive comfort from people who accept you -- just as you are -- with no strings attached. If you have no place that feels safe enough to let down your emotional defenses, you may tend to keep your guard up all the time -- a negative, cynical, and sometimes defensive guard that masks the very problems you are facing.

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