As you know, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms are not just limited to your body. In fact, RA can also affect your mental health. Research shows that people with RA twice as likely to become depressed. One of the culprits is due to RA pain and the other to due to having to give up the things you enjoy such as a hobby, playing a sport and spending time with loved ones.
It is also important to note that depression can make RA worse. As a result of being depressed, RA patients are not able to manage their disease. Stress is also a contribution factor to flare-ups and when your mental health is tired, your body will also feel those affects. Additionally, RA patients are less likely to share signs of depression with their doctors.
What most of us don’t realize is our emotional health is just as important as our physical health. Your rheumatologist or treating doctor may be able to treat your depression or refer you to a mental health doctor. Before you notify your treating physician that you may be depressed, it is important to know the signs of depression. If any of these symptoms sound familiar, share this information your rheumatologist or treating doctor immediately.
• Feelings of sadness
• A lack of energy
• Fluctuations in your weight
• Loss of interest in activities that once made you happy
• Thoughts of death or suicide
Rheumatoid arthritis is often associated with a greater risk for depression according to research funded by the Arthritis Foundation. Many studies have found that RA patients who are depressed have worse outcomes compared to those with RA that are not depressed. If your doctor is not talking to you about depression, take the initiative to start talking about it. If you are not communicating this information to your doctor, it could have a negative impact on your health and your quality of life.