DEPRESSION AND RA
If you are suffering from depression and RA you are not alone. Science Daily reports that 63% of RA patients will suffer from episodes of depression; I suspect this number is even higher with some people not wanting to tell their physician that they suffer from depression. I feel strongly that Depression and RA should be treated together or at least that more attention should be paid to the idea that depression will follow the diagnosis of RA and to be prepared.
There are so many reasons a person will suffer with depression after the diagnosis of RA. Although you may have felt relief by putting a name to all the pains that you are suffering, the diagnosis tends to bring on many hard decisions. Which treatment will you try? How safe are these treatments, and, will any of these treatments cure RA?
Probably the most depressing is the loss of self. Suddenly all the things you’ve done up until this point that define who you are may seem to be gone. You may wonder, who are you without these activities that you have enjoyed up until now?
Trying to explain to others that you have limitations is depressing in itself because of the lack of understanding from people who don’t have this disease. If you can remember that others can’t understand simply because they have no way to associate with what you are experiencing unless they have experienced it themselves helps.
For those of us who are married we must remember that our spouse is going through this challenge with us. Not everyone is good at expressing concern and this can lead you to believe your spouse is not supportive. Remember, your spouse is suffering the same confussion and sense of loss that you are and may not know how to be the support you need. You will need to have patience and try to let you spouse know what he or she can do to help you through this.
One thing to be grateful for is the ease in finding others who can understand what it’s like to live with Rheumatoid Arthritis through the internet. I recommend you seek out people that you can talk to who will understand and perhaps offer some support and encouragement for times when you need the extra support.
Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis is a challenge until you learn how to control the disease and during this period pain may cause sleep disruption. This added stress that sleep deprivation brings to the body can often bring on episodes of depression.
For me the cortisone injections had side effects that caused me to have very limited short term memory and this led to forgetting things of importance which in turn led to me beating myself up over feeling that I was failing my children. I learned over time to joke about forgetting things and this helped me lighten up and I was lucky, friends started helping me to remember things that were important.
Probably the leading cause of depression for me was my own doing. I tended to isolate myself from others, partly because I was ashamed of the way I looked, partly because it took too much energy to try to get out, and, driving was a challenge since I had trouble turning the key to start my vehicle, then steering and I had limited attention, one day almost drove off the highway. I also didn’t want people coming to the house because I felt judged by the lack of care of my home and gardens. I highly recommend you to make the effort to keep in touch with all the people who are important to you, forget about the judgments, it doesn’t matter.
Always discuss with your physician any new signs of depression, some medications can be the cause, let your doctor assist you. I was lucky in that, when I finally admitted to my doctor that I was depressed and I asked if I should perhaps take something for this he said that he was concerned, I was already taking so many meds, he asked me if we could work on it together and promised he would be there to help, and he was.
When I was told I should never expect to be able to do more than 1 hour of activity in a day, even if I ever found remission was disheartening but rather than let it get me down I just refused to believe this to be a truth and worked towards proving the doctors wrong.
It worked for me and I’m here trying to help others have the same success I’ve enjoyed.
I did suffer periods of depression and I hope I’ve shared with you what I feel were the contributing factors to help you avoid them.
If you’ve read through this website you know that I’m all about helping you realize that you can get all of these things back and you can live without the pain and suffering generally associated with RA. Even better news is that the way back to health could also be the way to lift this feeling of depression.
New research on depression and chronic disease
Recent research suggests that during systemic infections, cancer or autoimmune diseases the immune signaling to the brain may lead to not only increased illness but also development of symptoms of depression. Inflammation of the stomach lining appears to increase the risk of depression in persons living with chronic inflammation.
This could explain why so many people suffering from RA also have a tendency towards suffering from episodes of depression even when the pain is not overwhelming.
Natural Treatments to combat Depression
A healthy diet nurtures not only our physical health but also our mental health.
Exercise is also necessary to maintain both physical and mental health.
Dehydration affects the brain as much as it affects our overall wellness.
As the study above notes, digestive health can be very influential to over all mental health with a poor digestive system leading to inflammation which then leads to depression.The good news is, all of the natural things that are recommended to recover from RA will also help you overcome depression.
Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to keep the brain hydrated as well as hydrating all of your body systems.
Ensuring you are getting a daily dose of Omega 3 fats, or Fish Oil is good for the brain, in fact the brain needs these fats to function well.
Eat whole foods, staying away from foods that have been processed. This means you are eating foods in their natural state, they do not come out of a box or can.
Avoid foods that you are
sensitive or allergic
to. You may need to test to learn which foods these are because, as we go through life we become accustomed to how we feel and have no base line to measure how we should feel if we weren’t eating these suspect foods.
Herbs like Passion flower and St John’s Wort have been shown to be useful to combat stress.
Add a quality supplement to your diet each day.
Get your vitamin D levels tested, and maintain a healthy level through exposure to the sun.
Stress causes disruption in the intestines. Energy healing can be a very effective method to combat stress and I recommend something called EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) for this. For people who don’t know what EFT is you can search and learn about it. I use EFT myself and find it so helpful, and it really doesn’t take much time or effort.
Meditation is an excellent form of freeing the mind and body of stress and can be helpful.
Remember when you are feeling down that it actually takes more energy for the body to maintain a depressed state. All of our body must be willing to conform to this state of depression, and we can help turn this feeling around by changing our posture. Anthony Robins writes great articles on how to avoid allowing one self to live in a depressed state and I recommend his work, he’s very inspiring and can teach simple lessons on how to lift yourself out of a constant state of depression.
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This information is not designed as or intended to be used as medical diagnosis or advice. Patients should consult their physicians about diagnosis and treatment.