Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that commonly occurs in people with psoriasis, a skin condition that leads to itchy, scaly lesions, most commonly on the knees, elbows, torso, and scalp. Psoriatic arthritis usually affects the joints of the hands and feet and results in symptoms such as joint pain and inflammation, as well as fatigue and nail changes.
But it’s not your grandfather’s arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis most commonly occurs in people aged 30 to 50. It can be an invisible disease, as not everyone can see the joint issues you are facing. As a result, there is much that is not understood about the situation.
Lack of understanding with friends, family members, and even co -workers can affect your mental health. In some cases, it can even contribute to depression. According to a systematic review of people with the joint condition, 1 in 3 has anxiety and 1 in 5 faces depression.
“For any chronic disease, including psoriatic arthritis or any other type of inflammatory arthritis, it’s important to treat your emotional and mental health as seriously as your physical health,” says David Kung , MD, is a board-certified rheumatologist at Austin Regional Clinic in Texas. “If mental health is not balanced, it can result in more pain and fatigue, damage work and personal relationships, and limit other activities of daily living. It can also damage your ability to exercise regularly, drink healthy foods, or manage your treatment plan effectively.
Managing a chronic condition can also be a major source of stress, which can exacerbate your psoriatic arthritis, Drs. If. Unpredictable flare-ups can cause stress and anxiety, making work and life planning even more difficult. Meanwhile, psoriasis-related skin lesions that often accompany psoriatic arthritis can be a visible source of embarrassment and stress, he said.
Having a strong support system can make all the difference in helping you manage your mental health and reduce your stress and anxiety. Fortunately, many solutions and resources are available to help provide support. Here are a few to consider.
1. Be open to friends and family.
The fact that psoriatic arthritis can be less noticeable on the outside means that others are often unaware of the challenges you are experiencing, which can make it even more difficult for them to understand what you are going through. That’s why it’s important to be open with your loved ones about your condition and explain your symptoms and why you’re having a hard time doing tasks. Don’t be afraid to share with those you love and trust; The possibility is, they are not only kind, but also want to act and help when they can.
2. Find psoriatic arthritis support groups.
Living with a chronic condition can make you feel lonely. Connecting with other people who have had similar experiences can help, Kung said. You can find communities through organizations like the National Psoriasis Foundation and Arthritis Foundation. You can also search on social media, as a community or Facebook group can be a good source to compare the notes of others who have this mental illness.
3. Consider joining a volunteer or advocacy group.
It can feel rewarding and satisfying to give back to the psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis community. The National Psoriasis Foundation offers volunteering opportunities where you can serve as a teacher and share with others what you have learned about the condition. Or you could serve as an advocacy volunteer to educate others about the disease and even to help influence government policy on related matters. You can also sign up for fundraising activities for the organization or volunteer to share information on social media.
4. Research professional organizations.
Organizations like the National Psoriasis Foundation and the Arthritis Foundation can also help you stay informed about upcoming events and conferences, which can serve as an opportunity to meet others with psoriatic arthritis. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic makes most of these resources less available and increases overall stress from loneliness and fear of infection while on immunosuppression, Kung says. However, the update can be useful for organizational updates, virtual events, and other opportunities to meet people.
5. Do not reject therapy or counseling.
It is always wise to prioritize your mental health, especially if you know that your condition is causing a lot of pain, stress, and low points.
“Mental health management is often best done through a number of methods, and in general, there is no one size fits all approach,” says Kung. “Some seek help through friends or family, while others may need advice or medication.” Be sure to be open with your healthcare provider about your mental and emotional health. They may be able to provide a referral to a therapist or counselor who can help.
6. Exercise-and make it a social activity.
Exercise is important for everyone, but especially people with psoriatic arthritis, because staying active can improve the mental and physical aspects of managing the condition, Kung said.
“Exercising outdoors is even better, because sunlight is likely to improve psoriasis a bit and help increase vitamin D intake,” he added.
Take it a step further by meeting a friend or family member for a regular walk or jog. Social time will not only improve your mood, but will also provide an opportunity to fill your loved ones with how you are doing.