Lupus and Depression: It's Not Just Sadness
Those who struggle with lupus often experience overbearing symptoms of depression, which are usually tied to flares, and leave during remissions. Nevertheless, some of these symptoms can often remain even past the flare periods, and become a part of the patient’s daily life. In these cases, constant attention to these symptoms is vital when determining the possibility of depression due to the severity of lupus symptoms.
Major depressive disorder, also known as clinical depression, is a mental disorder in which the patient experiences irritable or depressed moods, alongside decreased energy and motivation, and whose presence extends past 8 weeks (or two months). One of the most obvious signs of depression is when the person suddenly loses all interest in activities that once gave them joy with no apparent reason as to why. When experienced alongside lupus, these symptoms are rarely directly related to the disease, and appear mostly due to the side effects of lupus medication, along with the stress of the patient’s daily life.
Regardless of the cause, those who suffer from lupus must always keep a close eye on the following signs and symptoms, in order to predict and identify a possible depressive disorder:
- Feelings of impotence and helplessness, along with hopelessness
- Sad moods that extend to most days
- Frequent bouts of crying, possibly with no apparent reason
- Insomnia, as well as excessive sleep
- Weight loss or weight gain due to changes in appetite
- Feelings of overbearing anxiety
- Negative self-image or self-esteem
- Constant indecisiveness
- Diminished interest in activities that the person used to enjoy
- Lack of motivation, manifested because of excessive fatigue
- Lethargic when performing certain activities
- Diminished libido and sexual performance
- Recurring thoughts of death and suicide
The problem with chronic illnesses like lupus is not solely limited to the symptoms they produce. The stress they put on the person’s daily life can act as the pivotal point for mental disorder and, should the person fail to seek aid, or address these issues in any way, can be the source of much distress and further illness. For most lupus patients, these symptoms can be a source of weakness and shame; a burden on themselves and on their caregivers, on top of their existing condition. For this reason, some may be reluctant to seek aid. However, these diseases are nothing to be embarrassed about, especially when considering their long-term effects if they are left untreated.
Those who are struggling with both lupus and depression might find the following tips useful. However, it's important to remember that everyone is different. What may work for someone, may not work for someone else.