Lupus is an autoimmune disease that targets multiple systems in our body. It is a chronic condition where the patients have to live with the symptoms permanently. It is also a very changeable disease, as patients have to live not knowing when the flare-ups may appear and when they will all subside. It is normal for you to feel upset, angry, and sad about the life you have to live from now on with lupus. Some of these feelings are only temporary, but to others, these feelings can persist and cause clinical depression.
Why is lupus a stressful disease?
Lupus is a chronic disease with no cure. Just imagine taking medications for the rest of your life. That alone is a very stressful thought. If you are taking medications for lupus, some of the lupus medicines can alone cause depression.
What are the symptoms of depression?
There are several symptoms of clinical depression, but to make a diagnosis of depression, one should have these symptoms for several weeks and severe enough to affect the quality of your life.
One of the most characteristic symptoms of depression is that you will lose interest in the things you once used to love. For example, a person who loved gardening and cooking will no longer be interested in doing such things. Other symptoms of depression include:
- Being moody
- Feeling of hopelessness
- Difficulty in falling asleep (insomnia)
- Crying without any reason
- Low self-esteem
- Suicidal thoughts
- Poor concentration
How is depression diagnosed in lupus patients?
Depression is clinically diagnosed depending on the patient's signs and symptoms. However, lupus and depression may share some of the symptoms such as lack of energy and insomnia; thus, making the diagnosis of depression among patients quite difficult.
What are the causes of depression in lupus?
Lupus is a chronic illness with no cure, and the emotional stress caused by the disease itself can contribute to depression. In addition to this, the money spent on medication, the effects on social life, and stress in one's workplace will all add up as causes of depression. As you know, a patient with lupus gets tired very easily, and therefore, finds it hard to work throughout the day. Due to photosensitivity, they also cannot bear to be exposed to the sun; otherwise, the symptoms will begin to appear. All these will affect their social life.
The drugs used in the treatment of lupus, especially corticosteroids, contribute to the development of depression in lupus patients.
What should you do about this?
Don’t worry, clinical depression can be treated with the right medicine and with the help of psychological therapy. The following are some tips to manage your depression:
- Visit a psychologist - You do not have to be shy about having depression. It is normal for all of us to face such situations from time to time in our lives. Psychotherapy will help you understand about your illness and learn how to cope with the disease. It will help you learn how to cope with stress and live with the disease.
- Take antidepressants - These drugs will help you control your feelings. A number of patients see clinical improvements once medication has started.
- Exercise daily - Having a daily exercise routine could help you lessen the stress a little bit.
- Sleep well - Find ways to rest and fall asleep. You have to sleep for at least seven to eight hours a day. Avoid drinking caffeine close to your bedtime. Use comfortable mattresses and bed linens, so that you could have a comfortable and a good night sleep. If any of these don’t work, speak with your doctor and get some sleeping tablets to help you fight insomnia.