How to Manage Depression With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Koelzer finds that social media can put her in touch with others who are going through some of the same things she is. When she's awake at 3 a.m., she signs on to the Twitter account she created to follow other people with long-term illnesses. "People are live-tweeting what they're feeling," she says. "[I realize] I'm not the only one. It's comforting."
Koelzer is also a volunteer spokesperson for CreakyJoints, an online, non-profit support community for people with arthritis. It's another way to reach out to people who are looking for ways to manage their RA.
If you're not part of the Twitter generation, try a traditional support group -- one that meets in person or on the phone. They can fill the same role, leaving you feeling hopeful and empowered.
Write About Your Feelings
Koelzer recently treated herself to a fancy leather-bound journal. She's learned from experience that writing about her emotions relieves anxiety.
Other forms of expression might be just as effective. "If it's not the middle of the night," she says, "I can go play some intense Mozart."
Find a Counselor
Studies show that talking with a therapist, psychologist, or counselor can help people with mild to moderate depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy in particular may boost your mood. It focuses on changing ways you think and act.
When you meet with a mental health professional, it can help boost your self-respect and self-esteem, says Jonathan David Krant, MD, medical director of CreakyJoints.
Watch What You Eat
It's extra important to stick to a healthy, balanced diet when you have rheumatoid arthritis. That means you should cut back on fat while you pile lots of fruits and veggies on your plate.
Also look for food with omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and other fatty fish. They help fight the inflammation that causes the painful joints that are linked to your depression.
You don't have to completely change your eating habits overnight. You can start by making one or two small food swaps at a time. Substitute whole grains for refined products, for example.