If you’ve been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), you may find that dealing with the emotional toll of the disease can be just as difficult as handling its painful and sometimes debilitating physical symptoms.
Feelings of hopelessness, isolation, and fears of being dependent on others are just a few of the emotions that you may be experiencing. These feelings can lead to anxiety and depression.
While it may seem challenging at first, here are six ways you can find additional support to cope with PsA.
Online resources such as blogs, podcasts, and articles often feature the latest news about PsA and can connect you with others.
The National Psoriasis Foundation has information on PsA, podcasts, and the world’s largest online community of people with psoriasis and PsA. You can ask questions that you have about PsA on its helpline, the Patient Navigation Center. You can also find the foundation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The Arthritis Foundation also has a wide variety of information about PsA on its website, including blogs and other online tools and resources to help you understand and manage your condition. They also have an online forum, Arthritis Introspective, that connects people around the country.
Online support groups can bring you comfort by connecting you to people going through similar experiences. This may help you to feel less isolated, improve your understanding of PsA, and get useful feedback about treatment options. Just be aware that the information you receive should not replace professional medical advice.
If you’d like to try out a support group, your doctor may be able to recommend a suitable one. Think twice about joining any groups that promise a cure for your condition or have high fees to join.
Develop a circle of close family and friends who understand your condition and who can help you when needed. Whether it’s pitching in with household chores or being available to listen when you’re feeling low, they can make life a bit easier until your symptoms improve.
Being around caring people and openly discussing your worries with others can help you feel more reassured and less isolated.
Your rheumatologist may not pick up signs of anxiety or depression during your appointments. So, it’s important that you let them know how you’re feeling emotionally. If they ask you how you’re feeling, be open and honest with them.
The National Psoriasis Foundation urges people with PsA to talk openly about their emotional difficulties with their doctors. Your doctor can then decide on the best course of action, such as referring you to an appropriate mental health professional.
According to a 2016 study, many people with PsA who had described themselves as depressed did not receive support for their depression.
Participants in the study found that their concerns were often dismissed or would remain hidden from people around them. The researchers suggested that more psychologists, especially those with an interest in rheumatology, should be involved in the treatment of PsA.
In addition to your rheumatologist, seek out a psychologist or therapist for support if you’re experiencing mental health issues. The best way to feel better is to let your doctors know what emotions you’re experiencing.
Meeting people in your community who also have PsA is a good opportunity to develop a local support network. The Arthritis Foundation has local support groups throughout the country.
The National Psoriasis Foundation also hosts events throughout the country to raise funds for PsA research. Consider attending these events to increase PsA awareness and meet others who also have the condition.
Learn as much as you can about PsA so that you can educate others about the condition and raise awareness of it wherever you go. Find out about all of the different treatments and therapies available, and learn how to recognize all of the signs and symptoms. Also check out self-help strategies such as weight loss, exercise, or quitting smoking.
Researching all of this information can make you feel more assured, while also helping others understand and empathize with what you’re going through.
You may feel overwhelmed as you grapple with the physical symptoms of PsA, but you don’t need to go through it alone. There are thousands of other people out there who are going through some of the same challenges as you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to family and friends, and know that there’s always an online community out there to support you.