The Emotional Toll of Psoriatic Arthritis
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.
With increased social support, you can alleviate the emotional distress of living with psoriatic arthritis and gain health benefits such as the following:
- Greater sense of control. While you may have no control over your psoriatic arthritis, having a group of supportive family members and friends is something you can control.
- Greater resilience. Through positive feedback and support from friends and family, you can learn to buffer life's interruptions with effective coping skills instead of letting the moment's crisis overwhelm you.
- Longevity. In study after study, the findings are the same: people with many social contacts -- a spouse, a close-knit family, a network of friends, religious or other group affiliations -- lived longer and had better health. Those who had few ties with other people died at rates two to five times higher than those with good social ties.
If your psoriatic arthritis has led to high anxiety, isolation, increased stress, or depression, talk to your doctor or a licensed mental health counselor. Seeking help early on can help you avoid more serious problems associated with other mood disorders and chronic illnesses.