Jan 8, 2019
Nine Strategies for Managing Depression Caused by Arthritis
Anyone who suffers from arthritis knows that the blues can become a part of life. According to The Arthritis Foundation, “People with arthritis have high rates of depression and anxiety. Many of those affected don’t receive mental health treatment – which could potentially help with their physical arthritis symptoms.” The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way! The right approach can help keep depression at bay and improve your outlook on life. Here are nine strategies for managing depression caused by arthritis.
The chronic pain that comes with arthritis can contribute to depression. Because of that, managing the inflammation and pain of arthritis is a top priority. Together with your rheumatologist, you can find the right combination of medication and lifestyle changes that keep your symptoms and your depression under control.
Talk to a therapist.
Arthritis can lead to pain, sleepless nights, appointment stresses, extra bills, and a skewed outlook on life. Unfortunately, friends and family who do not have arthritis don’t understand what you may be going through. A therapist can just listen and give you an outlet to voice your frustrations. A good therapist can also help change the way you think about arthritis so you can start to enjoy life. You and your therapist can discuss what form of treatment can best tackle your issues.
Exercise can help to improve your mood and ease arthritis pain as long as it’s done responsibly. Exercising at least every other day is a must for any arthritis management plan. Not only will it help to ease pain, but it has been shown to decrease anxiety and increase levels of mood-boosting chemicals. Your daily workout can be as simple as 30-minute walk or some gentle yoga. If you don’t currently have an exercise program, start small and start slow. Look into activities that are comfortable and realistic for your body, such as walking, swimming, or Tai chi. As your body gets stronger, so will your mind.
You don’t have to purchase essential oils or sit with your hands in prayer to participate in the act of meditation. The practice of meditation is taking time out of your hectic day to pause, reflect, and relax. It’s the process of connecting your mind with your body, and allowing the two to support each other. By being mindful of the pain associated with arthritis, you can begin to apply relaxation techniques that can make the symptoms feel less debilitating. Setting aside time in your day for this small mental break can help reduce stress, pain, and depression.
Stress can add to arthritis pain and in turn depression, so remove as much stress from your life as possible. While it’s easier said than done, there are small steps you can take to decrease stress. Get enough sleep, give yourself plenty of time to get ready, plan ahead, clear out an overscheduled calendar, and learn to say no.
Sometimes a small gesture of self-indulgence can make a huge difference when you need to alleviate stress and give yourself a mental boost. When you take care of your mental health you will start to feel better physically, and vice versa. So go ahead and splurge on that massage, organize a spa day at home, or plan a relaxing night out with friends.
Consider depression medication.
While antidepressants aren’t for everyone, studies show that they can be helpful when battling depression. Don’t rule them out because of the stigma associated with depression medications. If this is something you decide to do, set aside time to talk with your doctor about benefits, risks, possible side effects, and how these may interact with other medicines you take.
Lean on the people that support you.
Having a strong support system of family and friends will help you cope with arthritis and will reduce depression. Being with family and friends will lift your mood and can give you someone to turn to when you need help or a supportive ear. Try and find a group who faces your same struggles. Studies have proven that arthritis support groups can improve moods, provide coping skills, reduce pain, and provide a reprieve from negative emotions.
Talk to your doctor.
Friends and support groups are necessities for those with arthritis, but remember that the best support system you can have is your rheumatology team. Support and education provided by your arthritis doctor is always your best resource.
If you have any questions on your physical or mental health, call the team at Carolina Arthritis today. We would love to be a part of your support system and help you live your best, positive life!