The Emotional Toll of Psoriatic Arthritis
Is Depression Common With Psoriatic Arthritis?
Depression is common with chronic pain. People with chronic pain often become very depressed and withdrawn -- so much so that they spend more time away from other people. Instead of focusing on their personal lives or the lives of their loved ones, they become increasingly focused on their pain and suffering, which is very real. The many appointments with health care providers to try to find relief, combined with the cost of these attempts, add to the frustration of chronic pain.
Common signs of depression may include:
- Disturbances in sleep patterns
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Weight loss or gain (5% of body weight)
- 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.