After a half-dozen pint-sized robots organize genetic material onto plates
and feed it into computers, Peter K. Gregersen, MD, painstakingly mines the
data, hoping to discover the unique genes that make some people more
susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Gregersen, head of the Feinstein Institute’s Robert S. Boas Center for
Genomics and Human Genetics in Manhasset, N.Y., and his team are edging closer
to solving the puzzle. They recently announced the discovery of two new genes
People with rheumatoid arthritis have high levels of certain immune system proteins that trigger inflammation, studies have shown. These proteins may also play a role in the onset of depression, but scientists aren't sure how.
Another link between the conditions is this: People who are no longer able to do everyday tasks that are important to them, "whether it's working or dropping the kids off at school, are more likely to have depression," says Mary Margaretten, MD. She's an assistant professor of medicine in the division of rheumatology at the University of California, San Francisco.
RA can make you feel low, and that can make your symptoms worse.
Make it harder to live with your disease
Cause more pain
Create challenges at work
Slow down your body
Lower your quality of life
Ways to Ease Depression
Rheumatologists share these tips to manage RA-related depression.
1.Seize the day. "Get out of bed, get yourself put together, and get dressed," says W. Hayes Wilson, MD. He's chief of rheumatology at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. "If you let yourself get pinned to your bed and you can't get anything done, you will feel worse."
2.Get moving. Exercise strengthens muscles and helps protect your joints. It also recharges the mind and spirit.
Walking is great exercise for people with RA. "It's important to move," Wilson says. "You don't have to walk far, but walking together in a group really helps fight depression."
Ask a friend to be your walking buddy, or check out the Arthritis Foundation's Walk With Ease program.
3. Talk more, text less. Have a friendly face-to-face conversation with someone.
"Today we have a lot of electronics that stop people from having personal communication," Wilson says. "Get out and be with someone."