Coping with the emotional ups and downs of psoriatic arthritis

Depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions are common in psoriatic arthritis. Seek diagnosis and treatment to benefit your overall health.

Having a long-term health issue can be tiring, both in mind and body. People with psoriatic arthritis know that pain, swelling and stiffness can come on quickly. And the symptoms can end as quickly as they started. There's no way to know when the cycle will begin or end.

Even when symptom-free, it can be hard not to worry about the symptoms starting again at any time. Living with the not knowing might be part of why mental health issues are common in psoriatic arthritis.

Mental health issues can include a mood marked by great sadness, also known as depression, or feeling worried and ill at ease, also known as anxiety. Having depression or anxiety can make psoriatic arthritis symptoms worse.

But treatments can help. They include lifestyle changes, medicines and talk therapy. Finding a treatment that works for you can improve your health and well-being.

The link between psoriatic arthritis and mental health

These mental health issues aren't the result of simply living with psoriatic arthritis. There are chemicals in the body that cause the pain and swelling, also known as inflammation, in psoriatic arthritis. Research has found that those chemicals also seem to increase the risk of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses even in people who don't have psoriatic arthritis.

Experts don't yet know the link between psoriatic arthritis and mental health. But it's clear, that treating both psoriatic arthritis and mental health issues is key to living better.

Ask your health care provider for help

Talk with your health care provider if you have long-lasting feelings of being sad, having no hope or worrying. A number of approaches can help, including:

  • Medicines. Some antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicines might work for you. Medicines that are often prescribed for mood disorders, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can affect psoriatic arthritis symptoms. Talk with your care provider about the pros and cons before starting or stopping any medicine.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of talk therapy helps you become aware of faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking. Changing these ways of thinking can lead to better ways of coping with challenges.
  • Managing stress. Stress causes the immune system to increase pain and swelling, also known as inflammation. This can make psoriatic arthritis symptoms worse. Finding ways to manage stress can help you cope with psoriatic arthritis.

    Tools to help you relax include yoga and deep breathing. Eating well, exercising, and having support from friends and family also play a role in managing stress.

  • Meditation. This simple practice can help reduce stress and increase calmness. It involves learning to stay in the present and accepting the thoughts and feelings that come up without judging them.

Meditation can help you think more clearly and react better to what causes you stress. When added to psoriatic arthritis treatment, meditation can reduce pain and improve your ability to cope with tough thoughts and feelings.

Reach out to people you trust

Talking about your feelings and troubles is another way to cope with psoriatic arthritis. Be open with your friends, family and health care providers.

Support groups also might help. Ask your care provider to help you find a group near you.

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March 21, 2023 See more In-depth