The various symptoms of arthritis include suffering from pain in your joints and extreme stiffness, so much so that it is difficult to do complete normal tasks like hold a pen. These are just the physical side effects, then there are the emotional ones. Anxiety, stress and depression can tag along with arthritis. This makes it very difficult to focus on the positive aspects of life. However, once you understand how the physical symptoms are related to the emotional ones, it can help you deal with it better. Learning techniques that help you maintain a positive outlook can be a boon when you’re dealing with arthritis.
How does arthritis affect your mood and lead to stress
It is observed that people with arthritis are more prone to developing depression than the rest. A study conducted on the subjects that suffered from osteoarthritis made a startling discovery. It was found that patients who suffered from pain in more than 6 joints and needed replacement surgery were more prone to suffer from depression than those whose symptoms were focused on just one joint. So there was a direct correlation between the number of joints affected by the symptoms of arthritis and the individual’s susceptibility to developing depression. The main problem is the sheer amount of pain that the patient suffers from, which in itself is enough to elevate levels of anxiety, stress and to pave the way for symptoms of depression to enter your life.
However, the fact that most of the daily tasks that were taken for granted all of your life, now take a herculean effort to accomplish. This can add to the feeling of helplessness and frustration, which in turn can take a toll on your emotional wellbeing.
Working at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital as the director of integrative pain management, Houman Danesh, MD. puts it as When a person loses the ability to do something they used to be able to do, like opening a jar, this can be very frustrating, and some people get depressed with their limitations. Arthritis alone doesn’t cause depression. The functional limitations of arthritis do.
Techniques to reduce stress caused by arthritis
It can be a burden, both physically as well as emotionally to deal with the anxiety and stress brought on by needing to cope with the consistent pain, having a hard time in completing the simplest of daily tasks and needing to ask for help from others which can damage your self-esteem. You might want to try out some of these ways to get a handle on your anxiety and stress, as well as decrease your vulnerability to develop depression.
Keep it moving
Exercise has a variety of benefits at any stage of your life and to combat several ailments in life. Including exercise in your daily life such as swimming, jogging, walking or biking, has proven to decrease the amount of pain caused by arthritis and elevate your mood. It is recommended to develop and employ an exercise regimen that includes aerobic exercises, stretching exercises, strength training and range of motion exercises.
Along with providing assistance to improve your physical symptoms of arthritis, exercising regularly also helps bring down your levels of stress. Sticking to a daily exercise regime can work as successfully to reduce your levels of depression and anxiety as meditation would.
Go to sleep early
Getting an ample amount of sleep can help you feel rejuvenated in the morning as well as aid in reducing the pain in your joints. All of this, in turn, helps elevate your mood and better your outlook on life. Research also proved that patients who suffered from osteoarthritis, as well as insomnia, reported higher degrees of pain.
It might seem counter-intuitive to expect more sleep when you’re already suffering from pain. However, you should develop good sleep habits that might make even a bit of a difference in the amount of pain you suffer. You must make sure that your diet excludes alcohol and caffeine as it is known to interfere in your sleep patterns. You should also learn new relaxation techniques that can calm your mind enough to get better quality and long amount of sleep. If you do decide to opt for painkillers or pills to help you sleep, make sure you consult a doctor before prescribing to any drugs.
Stress, depression and anxiety triggered by the various symptoms of arthritis can be dealt with by regularly practising yoga, meditation and tai chi. Incorporating tai chi and yoga into your life and practising it every day can also help boost your balance, coordination and posture.
Rein your friends
in for support
Having a tight group of friends and family that you can lean on for support while going through trying times in life is a huge help regardless of the problem you’re dealing with. Being around people you love and trust can help elevate your mood as you do not have to be nervous or be on guard, it can also provide the extra help needed to complete the tasks that are hard to do due to arthritis. It also provides you someone to talk to about everything that is changing in your life that can help deal with it.
Reconfigure your thinking
In a study conducted to observe the added effects of insomnia on the patients of osteoarthritis, it was observed that people who thought of their disease in a negative light experienced a higher amount of pain than ones who have a positive outlook. According to Danesh, Be grateful and focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t. If this is too difficult to do alone, talk to your doctor about your feelings or see a therapist for help.