Chronic pain and fatigue can take an emotional toll as well as a physical one. This section explores the effects of arthritis on your emotional and behavioral health and what can be done about them.
It’s not only the physical changes of arthritis that can give you trouble. One of the biggest — and most challenging — changes may be the realization that you need help from others. It’s not easy for most of us to ask for help, for all kinds of reasons.
The burden of illness can be heavier when it seems that everyone around you is healthy. Having arthritis can make you feel that you are constantly fighting other people's perceptions and beliefs about you. It takes time to learn how to be "sick" in a healthy world.
Listening matters. Sometimes there is nothing more comforting than feeling that someone is listening to you and really hearing what you have to say. There are many things you can do so other people will listen the way you want them to, and so that you can lend your ear the way other people need.
We all experience stress at one time or another, whether it's related to work, family, school, or friendships. Reducing stress can be difficult task, but there are proven techniques to help you get your level of stress under control.
“You don’t look sick!” “How could you be tired? You haven’t done anything!” “What’s wrong with your hands?” Nothing undercuts the fun of socializing like insensitive comments from people who are unfamiliar with arthritis or who try to make you feel bad for having it. Your arthritis doesn’t define you. Here are some tips for dealing with stigma when you encounter it.
Arthritis can bring about lots of changes to your life, not all of them welcome. Change can be difficult under any circumstance, but especially so if you feel that you have little control over it. One way to better manage your arthritis is to learn how to prepare yourself for unexpected changes and open yourself to new possibilities.
Depression gets less attention than many of the other conditions that frequently accompany arthritis. But it can be just as serious, exacerbating the symptoms of arthritis and making them more difficult to cope with. The good news is that depression does not need to be weathered silently and alone; it can be effectively treated.
People with arthritis are often faced with the need to change their health habits. Whether it’s exercising more, eating less, or managing stress more effectively, there is almost always room for improvement. Making these changes for a day or two is easy, but keeping them up for the long haul is a whole different matter.
The holidays may be the season for decorating the Christmas tree or frying up potato latkes, but for people living with arthritis, the holidays are often also the season of increased pain. Long to-do lists, jam-packed social schedules, and the prospect of family drama can lead to flares, pain, and discomfort — but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Why do some people with arthritis bounce back from adversity, while others find themselves unable to dig themselves out? One factor is the quality of "resilience." Resilient people are flexible, tough, accepting of challenges, and willing to persevere in the face of life's problems.
For people with arthritis, stress, depression, and feelings of helplessness can lead to increased pain and difficulty coping. Psychotherapy is one way to attend to your emotional well-being. You might have preconceived ideas about what it means to get mental-health treatment: Perhaps you consider it a sign of weakness or think that it's only for people who are “crazy.” Neither of these ideas is true.
Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.