Are you worried about the treatment for your arthritis that hasn’t yet started? Are you anxious about the potential side effects of taking your prescribed medications? Feeling stressed is a part of life, but what happens when your medical diagnosis leaves you feeling stressed to the point it begins to interfere with your quality of life? You may be experiencing a treatable condition called anxiety.
It’s important to know that you’re not alone. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health issues and are highly treatable.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost one-quarter of adults diagnosed with a form of arthritis report having anxiety as a result of their diagnosis. However, fewer than half of those patients with anxiety were receiving medical treatment, and only one-third had spoken with a mental health professional about it. When anxiety becomes constant or overwhelming and worries or fears interfere with your relationships and daily life, you’ve likely crossed the line from normal anxiety into the territory of an anxiety disorder.
The body’s response to stress can be physical and may include a heightened state of mental alertness, a fast heartbeat, increased blood pressure, rapid breathing, and sweating. This so-called “fight or flight” response is a natural and protective function our body uses to deal with threats. Anxiety disorder is when you feel these same symptoms, but they are intense, excessive, or persistent and occur at times when there is no identified threat or problem.
The first step to confronting anxiety is to understand why you feel anxious and then put together a plan to help you treat the symptoms of anxiety. Focus on one problem and one solution at a time. It can help to talk to your physician about your concerns.
To help reduce your anxiety, your physician can…
The bottom line is that leading a healthy lifestyle will help alleviate your anxiety and improve your quality of life. These habits can also help alleviate some of your worries:
Paying attention to your emotional and mental state is an important aspect of your overall well-being. Having any form of arthritis may also negatively impact your mental health. In this case, a patient needs not only to treat only the arthritis, but also to consider their mental health.
Senada Arabelovic, DO, is a rheumatologist, an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology at Tufts Medical Center, Chair Elect, Women in Medicine and Science (WiMS), Tufts Medical Center Physician Organization, Director of 4th Year Tufts Medical Students Rheumatology Elective, Associate Program Director Tufts Rheumatology Fellowship and Co-director of the Transition Clinic for Young Adults with Autoimmune Diseases. Dr. Arabelovic is also a member of the American College of Rheumatology’s Communications and Marketing Committee.