Treating Depression and Anxiety in Arthritis

Last updated: 04-01-2020

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Treating Depression and Anxiety in Arthritis

When you feel depressed or excessively anxious, you may be too overwhelmed to properly care for your arthritis or your emotional health. Because pain, mental health and disability are strongly linked, not recognizing or treating one can negatively impact the other. Treating mental health conditions should be regarded as a fundamental part of managing arthritis symptoms. 

For example, having depression may mean you don’t have the will or energy to exercise, which can lead to loss of function. On the other hand, having a lot of pain and inflammation may make it harder to exercise and cause you to be depressed or anxious. Eventually, this vicious cycle harms your sleep, daily activity, social interactions, treatment adherence and self-care.  

When to See a Doctor About Anxiety 

Instead of feeling low and lacking energy, maybe you feel restless and full of worry and distress. Some people respond to chronic illness and stress with anxiety rather than depression. If the following symptoms are uncontrollable or interfere with your daily life – such as making you dread regular activities like as going to work, school or spending time with friends and family – it’s time to talk with a doctor. 

When to See a Doctor About Depression 

Feeling down in the dumps is sometimes part of life. One day you're out of sorts and your spirits are low; the next day you're back in the groove. But if these low feelings last for two or more weeks, you may be clinically depressed. Experts suggest seeking help from a medical professional if you have any of these symptoms of depression: 

If you have anxiety or depression, you have many treatment options available, from medications to psychotherapy to deep relaxation and acupuncture. Having a collaborative health care team is vital to success. You need to treat the inflammation and pain of your arthritis, because we know they contribute to your mental health. Make sure your rheumatologist and mental health specialist are coordinating your treatment so potential drug interactions can be avoided. 

In talk therapy or counseling, you work with a therapist to reduce your anxiety or depression. Examples include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, and problem-solving therapy. CBT is one of the more popular options. It focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. Which type of therapy works best for you will depend on your symptoms, personality and preferences. 

Several types of medicine are used to treat anxiety and depression. Talk with your doctor about benefits, risks, possible side effects and how these may interact with other medicines you take. 

Healthy lifestyle choices and self-care options can help ease your symptoms, especially when used in conjunction with psychotherapy or medication. These include; acupuncture, massage, yoga, physical activity, healthy nutrition, meditation, visualization and support groups. 


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