Having to deal with pain when you have arthritis is only part of the battle. Treatment for this disease must also take into account the emotional impact it causes.
The pain you experience with arthritis can definitely affect your mood. Sure, it's no surprise that constant joint pain, throbbing, burning, and stiffness can wreak havoc on our emotional well-being.
Also, this pain can get in the way of many activities that bring you joy : you no longer want to exercise, you can't go out and have fun with friends and family; You may not even be able to do the simplest of household chores or attend to your basic needs when your joints are really giving you trouble.
This is why many people experience depression and other mental health problems as a result of their arthritis, and why it is important to take care of your emotional health and your physical well-being simultaneously.
The Mind-Body Connection When You Have Arthritis
Grief and depression go hand in hand, and this relationship can feed itself. People in pain are often depressed because of their pain, and people with depression often experience physical pain and symptoms as a result of poor emotional health.
The rate of depression among people with arthritis varies depending on the type of arthritis. For people with osteoarthritis, depression can be common. People waiting for a joint replacement have an overall depression rate of about 12 percent, according to a study in the journal Arthritis.
And the rates are 2.5 times higher in people with six or more affected joints than in those with just one complaint.
The connection between emotional health and arthritis pain flare-ups appears to be particularly strong in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Depression and stress are very common with RA, and persistent stress and chronic depression make arthritis pain and other symptoms worse.
In fact, among people with rheumatoid arthritis, depending on the criteria used, the rate of depression can range from about 15 percent to nearly 39 percent, based on an analysis of 72 studies published in the September issue of Rheumatology.
Viewed from another perspective, people with rheumatoid arthritis are 74 percent more likely to develop depression than those without RA.
In a type of inflammatory arthritis like RA, pain caused by joint inflammation may appear before depression, but having depression afterward may mean that the patient experiences their pain more severely than a patient with similar degrees of inflammation without depression.
Chronic pain clearly affects emotional and physical health, and it is difficult to find relief for one without treating the other. Simply put, chronic pain cannot be treated well without also addressing concurrent anxiety and depression.
Mood disturbance is linked to poorer arthritis treatment outcomes among those with chronic pain and also to poorer general functioning, including greater pain-related disability.
The good news is that stress management techniques and depression treatment can also help you manage your arthritis pain.
Promote emotional health to control arthritis pain
Sometimes you will feel hopeless or hopeless because of your arthritis. To promote your emotional health, start implementing these recommendations to eliminate stress:
· Relax. Sure, easier said than done. truth? Well, not if you know how. Make sure you enjoy a quiet time that is completely stress-free - don't think about the things you should be doing, your health, or anything that could cause anxiety. Instead, focus fully on an activity that you enjoy, even if it's only for 15 minutes.
· Breathe. Practice simple deep breathing techniques. Try to inhale and exhale deeply and slowly, letting all the muscles in your body relax. Have calm and peaceful thoughts.
· Exercise. Moving, even in a limited way, will help your mind and body feel better, and you'll feel a sense of accomplishment as you get up and be active. Doing almost any type of activity can help reduce pain and depression, and getting the right amount of physical activity can also work wonders when it comes to arthritis.
You will enjoy double benefits: Following an exercise routine will increase mental health and reduce chronic pain. Light yoga and Pilates are good ways to stretch your joints while calming your mind. But first get the go-ahead from your rheumatologist to make sure you're doing good activities for you.
· Soak in a hot bath. This technique is not only great for relieving arthritis pain, but also for the spirit. Taking a nice soak in a bubbly tub is relaxing and luxurious, and can lift your spirits and spirits. Increase the relaxation factor by adding some candles and relaxing music during your bath.
· Speaks. Having arthritis is not something to be ashamed of, and suppressing your feelings will only make you feel worse. Talk to friends, family, or members of a support group about what you are experiencing physically and emotionally; sometimes all you need to do is express your feelings to make yourself feel better about them.
Ask for help in dealing with your emotional problems
Understand that feeling over-stressed or anxious about the state of your health is not uncommon when you are dealing with a chronic illness. Not only does arthritis cause you significant pain, it can also deprive you of something vital: your independence.
Not being able to get in your car and do your own shopping, clean your house, go for a walk, or even tie your shoes can be scary, frustrating, and depressing.
It is essential that patients with arthritis and depression receive help from both a rheumatologist and a psychiatrist or psychologist for a comprehensive treatment plan. Just as arthritis medications are not one-size-fits-all, neither are the various psychiatric medications and interventions used to treat depression and anxiety.
Mental health management is an important part of an arthritis treatment plan. When all aspects of pain are treated: depression, anxiety, sleep, pain, relationships, the results are optimal.
These are the recommended management techniques:
· Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches you how to manage pain and deal with emotional health problems like anxiety.
· Stress management techniques, including deep breathing and meditation, to help calm stressors that can make pain worse.
· Biofeedback, a therapy that teaches control of the body's involuntary processes (such as heart rate) to help manage chronic pain, depression, and anxiety.
Medication may also be an appropriate option. Antidepressants, mood stabilizers, anticonvulsants, and benzodiazepines can help control pain and, depending on the type of medicine, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and trouble sleeping.
Antidepressants, particularly SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and tricyclics, are responsible for altering pain perception and helping to stabilize moods.
Another type of antidepressant, an SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor called Effexor (venlafaxine), is also being implemented as a way to control both pain and mood, although Harvard describes the evidence to date as " inconclusive".
Don't stop getting help
If you're feeling overwhelmed, it's time to talk to your medical team about your emotional well-being. Treating your emotional health is also part of their job, and since arthritis is so often affected, they have the expertise you need. Just as your arthritis pain can be treated, anxiety and depression can also be treated.
It can be difficult to live with a disease like arthritis, but taking the right steps to improve your emotional health can also help ease your physical pain.