Depression is a normal reaction to stress and tension. It's not surprising, then, that depression is a common side effect of coping with arthritis. The chronic nature of arthritis can bring fears about future functioning. The disease's unpredictability can mean added disappointments in daily life. Coping with pain and physical limitations can force unwanted changes in habits and lifestyle, as well as in self-view. Added to the usual pressures of life, these stressors can trigger depression. Depression can even be a side effect of some arthritis medications.
While depression may be a natural response to stress, it is far from healthy for the person with arthritis. When depressed, the person with arthritis may spend more time focusing on pain and may neglect to keep up with exercises, medications, and other self-care measures. This, in turn, can increase pain and stress, locking the person in a vicious cycle.
That's why it's essential to stay alert to the signs of depression and take steps to keep it from taking hold. The following are some signs to watch for:
- Feelings of sadness, loneliness, or hopelessness
- Neglect of responsibilities and/or personal appearance
- Changes in appetite, weight, and/or sleep patterns
- Poor memory and/or concentration
- Unusual irritability
- Emotional flatness
- Loss of interest in family, friends, and activities that you would normally find enjoyable, such as hobbies, sports, or sex
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Physical discomforts including headaches, nausea, and stomach pain
If you begin to notice these signs, take action. Make a concerted effort to keep up with your exercise routine and medication schedule. Force yourself to get out of the house. Make appointments with friends or family for lunch or pleasurable activities. Talk about your feelings with a close friend, family member, or member of the clergy. If these steps don't help, talk to your doctor; he or she can prescribe medication and/or refer you to a qualified therapist.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.