Yes, there is a link between arthritis and depression. Sometimes depression is a side effect of medication, and sometimes it's due to physical or emotion factors. For example, we often have a self-image based on how much we accomplish. If we clean out the garage one Sunday, pulling out all the dusty boxes, sorting through all the old dishes and newspapers from the past who-knows-how-many decades, and throwing out most of it (not to mention actually making room for the car this winter!), we feel good about ourselves. Ah! Today I really did something! If we're no longer able to lift that box or open up that sticky packing tape, thoughts may arise… what good am I? How much worse is this going to get?
With arthritis, we feel limited; we can't play the sports we used to, or we feel that we're getting older, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Although depression is a natural reaction, it's not a healthy one. Signs of depression include:
- Thinking or talking about suicide
- Feeling sad or hopeless much of the time
- Neglecting how you look or your responsibilities
- Problems remembering
- Losing interest in what you used to enjoy, such as family, friends, food and hobbies
- Sleep disturbances
If you notice that you or your loved one are starting to show signs of depression, make sure the medication schedule and exercise routines don't get thrown to the roadside. Getting out of the house can lift your mood, especially if it's to meet family or friends at a restaurant or for an enjoyable activity. If sharing your feelings with a close friend or member of the clergy doesn't help, your doctor may even prescribe medication or send you to another professional. The point is, though, you don’t have to endure arthritis-related depression; you can get help.