What Depression Does to Flare Ups in a RA Patient
Individuals who live with chronic conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may experience a lot of physical pain and loss of joint function. However, it is not uncommon for their ailment to also affect their mental health. While sometimes RA directly causes mental health issues, other times these issues arise because of the life altering changes brought about by the chronic condition.
In fact, individuals with RA are more likely to experience mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, poor self esteem, and even panic attacks. To date, 17% of individuals with the autoimmune disorder suffer from major depression and up to 50% display significant depressive symptoms. Yet, what’s the link?
Individuals with RA are more likely to become depressed for several reasons. RA is chronic, resulting in joint pain and inflammation in the body that is out of control. This, in turn, puts extra stress on both the body and the mind. The disorder can make it hard to work or to perform certain every day activities, and as stress hormone levels become elevated, this leads to depression. That being said, depression can also make your physical pain worse. It is a vicious cycle, making it extremely difficult to feel good and maintain a positive outlook on life.
Seeing as how poor mental health is associated with poor physical symptoms, including pain and fatigue, a recent study was conducted aimed to determine if mental health can predict the likelihood of flare ups in RA patients.