The Emotional Effects of Psoriatic Arthritis

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on October 07, 2020

Living with psoriatic arthritis has its challenges beyond pain, stiffness, and fatigue.

There can be an emotional side to the disease, too. It's not unusual to get frustrated by your symptoms and find it harder to do simple tasks. You may worry about the cost of your treatment or how it affects other people. And depending on where your skin plaques are, you might be embarrassed by your psoriasis.

You can deal with these emotions in a positive way. While you may not be able to cure your condition, you do have a say in how you handle it.

Tame Stress and Anxiety

Any long-term illness comes with stress that can translate to:

  • Low energy
  • Poor sleep
  • Being more irritable
  • Changes in appetite
  • Avoiding your social life

With psoriatic arthritis, the stress can both worsen and trigger symptoms: A flare-up can raise your stress, which makes your pain and skin worse, which adds more stress.

Anxiety can lead to poor sleep, which leaves you feeling more tired and achy the next day, so you won't sleep as well. Worrying about psoriasis may even keep your treatment from working its best for you.

Do something nice for yourself every day to ease the effects of stress. It doesn't have to be a big deal. Make yourself a cup of herbal tea in the afternoon. Even a few quiet minutes of "me time" when you wake up or before you go to bed can help. It's not selfish. It's as important as taking your medication.

Stay Connected

You might be tempted to pull away and not make the effort to be social. But that isn't good for you.

With people you’re close to, you can share your innermost feelings and they accept you -- just as you are. Their comfort and support can often offset the unpleasantness.

With their help, you may also find it easier to keep up with your treatment.

The findings are the same in study after study: People with many social contacts -- a partner, a close-knit family, a network of friends, and religious or other group connections -- live longer and have better health. So open up and reach out.

Set Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment Goals With Your DoctorThe earlier you treat your psoriatic arthritis, the better chances you have of slowing or stopping joint damage. And remission is possible, so work with your doctor to track your progress.129


SPEAKER 1: In the US, up to 30%

of people with psoriasis

also develop

psoriatic arthritis.

Psoriatic arthritis

is an inflammatory type

of arthritis that can cause

pain, stiffness, and swelling

in one or more joints.

If not treated, it can cause

permanent damage.

The earlier psoriatic arthritis

is treated, the better chances

you have of slowing or stopping

joint damage.

There have been lots

of treatment breakthroughs

in the last 10 years.

And for most patients, remission

is possible.

SPEAKER 2: So remission

is the goal.

And that defines a state

of low disease activity where

there's not

a lot of inflammation.

There's not a lot of pain.

And the joints-- we have studies

that show that people

on these drugs,

they don't progress as rapidly,

and sometimes they stop

progressing in joint damage


SPEAKER 1: There are

several types of medicines

to treat psoriatic arthritis.

But it can take time to find

the treatment that will work

best for you.

So work closely with your doctor

to monitor your progress.


The goal of our treatment

is to help the skin,

to decrease the pain,

and to prevent

joint destruction.

The skin is very important.

It's important not just

for its appearance, but the skin

is the barrier to bad things

in the environment.

You don't want to have open skin

lesions that are

prone to infection.

In terms of the joints, the goal

is to prevent joint damage.

SPEAKER 1: Everyone's body is

different, so no treatment plan

will be the same.

Educating yourself will help.

SPEAKER 2: Many studies

in many different arenas

have shown that the patient who

is more


about their condition

does better.

So ask your doctor.

Ask them for the rationale--

why are you using this medicine

instead of this other one?

Why is the thing that I saw

on television not appropriate

for me?

And be part of it.

SPEAKER 1: So talk

to your doctor about the best

treatment plan for you.

Arthritis Foundation: "Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment," "How Common Is Psoriatic Arthritis in People with Psoriasis?" <br> Gary Botstein, MD, Emory at Decatur Rheumatology /delivery/32/5d/325d2016-5d8d-4090-814a-4e6c0c6d0826/expert-voices-set-goals-with-your-doctor-for-pa_,400k,4500k,2500k,750k,1000k,.mp412/10/2018 16:31:00650350wrist pain/webmd/consumer_assets/site_images/article_thumbnails/video/set_goals_with_your_doctor_pa_video/650x350_set_goals_with_your_doctor_pa_video.jpg091e9c5e81b601fc

Treat Depression

You're more likely to become depressed when you have an ongoing condition.

People with depression may feel:

  • Sadness
  • Guilt or worthlessness
  • Irritability and anger
  • No interest or pleasure in things they used to enjoy

Other common signs include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • A tough time getting out of bed
  • Trouble concentrating, making decisions, or remembering
  • Mood swings
  • Staying at home and avoiding friends
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Headaches or stomachaches without a known cause


Depression can be treated. Medication can help reset the chemicals in your brain, and therapy can help you work through your troubles. Even things like exercise can help.

Let your doctor know if you feel down for more than a couple of weeks. They can help you come up with a plan to feel better.


Take Action

One of the best things you can do when your feelings start to get to you is to talk with your doctor or a mental health professional. Counseling can help you change negative thinking patterns, plan strategies, and build skills to become stronger emotionally.

Also, stay active. It’s good for your mood as well as your joints. If simple activities like walking are hard, get in the pool. The water supports your weight, so you can move more easily and without impact on your joints.

Consider yoga, tai chi, or qi gong, too. These gentle, meditative practices help you find a sense of centered calm and keep you flexible.

You may also want to try mind/body treatments such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and biofeedback. They can teach you to control your body's reaction to stress -- including your heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension -- and manage pain.

How to Manage Psoriatic Arthritis Fatigue A long-term condition can leave you feeling tired. Here are a few ways to boost your energy.88

If your psoriatic arthritis is

making you feel exhausted,

here are a few tips on managing

your fatigue.

Ongoing pain can make you feel


Adding exercise to your routine

can help ease your discomfort

by loosening up your joints.

But it also boosts your energy.

Walking, swimming,

and warm-water exercises may be

easy on your joints.

You may want to try the flowing,

circular movement of tai chi.

Strength training can ease pain,

too, especially if you have


That's because the stronger

your muscles are,

the less your joints have

to work.

Talk to your doctor about what

exercises may be good for you.

Next, keep your stress in check.

Too much tension can zap

your energy.

Practicing mindfulness

and having good sleep habits

can help.

A healthy diet can ease

your inflammation, which can

boost your energy level.

Cut back on foods like sugar

and the trans fats

found in fried foods.

Stay away from refined carbs

like crackers and white bread.

Try a Mediterranean diet that

includes fish such as salmon,

sardines, and tuna.

Snack on nuts and seeds

like walnuts, pistachios,

and almonds.

And bulk up

on vitamin K-rich veggies

like broccoli, spinach,

and kale.

When you have

a long-term condition,

you may sometimes feel

depressed or anxious.

These feelings can actually make

you feel tired.

Talk to a loved one

or your doctor

about your feelings,

and you may find it

helpful to talk to a therapist.

Some studies show talk therapy

can even help you get a better

night's sleep.

Arthritis Foundation: "How to Beat Arthritis Fatigue," "8 Food Ingredients That Can Cause Inflammation," "The Ultimate Arthritis Diet."<br>National Psoriasis Foundation: "Living with Psoriatic Arthritis," "Fatigue and Psoriatic Arthritis."<br>Mayo Clinic: "Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier," "Stress relievers: Tips to tame stress."<br>National Institutes of Health: "Resistance training is medicine: Effects of strength training on health," "Laughter prescription," "Mitigating Cellular Inflammation in Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Tai Chi Chih," "Fatigue -- an underestimated symptom in psoriatic arthritis," "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy vs. Tai Chi for Late Life Insomnia and Inflammatory Risk: A Randomized Controlled Comparative Efficacy Trial."/delivery/aws/e7/27/e727b71c-2dfa-3a20-a463-0ac1cb53536c/091e9c5e81ddb1dd_funded-vo-feature-how-to-manage-psoriatic-arthritis-fatigue_,4500k,2500k,1000k,750k,400k,.mp401/02/2020 12:00:00650350how to manage psoriatic arthritis fatigue/webmd/consumer_assets/site_images/article_thumbnails/video/funded_vo_feature_how_to_manage_psoriatic_arthritis_fatigue_video/650x350_funded_vo_feature_how_to_manage_psoriatic_arthritis_fatigue_video.jpg091e9c5e81ddb1dd
WebMD Medical Reference



Arthritis Foundation: "Regulating Mood to Lessen Pain," "Psych Yourself Up for Exercise."

American College of Rheumatology: "Psoriatic Arthritis."

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