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How to Stay Positive With Arthritis

How to Stay Positive With Arthritis

By  Marie Suszynski   |Reviewed by  Farrokh Sohrabi, MD  
Having arthritis can be a real downer. But there are ways brighten your outlook, even if all you want to do is go back to bed. 

There’s the physical side of arthritis: joints so achy and stiff that you can hardly hold a coffee cup. And then there’s the effect arthritis can have on your emotions.

Stress, anxiety, and depression can all accompany arthritis, and staying positive may be a challenge. But understanding the connection between your physical symptoms and your emotions can help. So can learning strategies on how to stay upbeat when living with arthritis.

Arthritis, Stress, and Your Mood

People with arthritis face an increased risk for depression. In a study published in the journal Arthritis in 2015, researchers found that among people with osteoarthritis who needed joint replacement surgery, those who had six or more painful joints were more likely to have depression than were those who had symptoms in only one joint. And the risk of depression rose along with the number of joints affected.  

Part of the problem is that chronic pain alone can increase stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms. But arthritis can take an emotional toll by limiting your ability to do things you once took for granted.

“When a person loses the ability to do something they used to be able to do, like opening a jar, this can be very frustrating, and some people get depressed with their limitations,” says Houman Danesh, MD, director of integrative pain management at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “Arthritis alone doesn’t cause depression. The functional limitations of arthritis do.”

De-Stressing Strategies for Arthritis

The stress and anxiety of dealing with chronic pain, struggling with daily activities, and having to rely on others for help can all make having arthritis worse, both physically and emotionally. Consider these steps to help you get a handle on stress and anxiety and lower your chances of arthritis-related depression:

Keep moving. Regular exercise, such as walking, swimming, or biking, can help reduce pain and boost your mood, says the American College of Rheumatology. The organization recommends an exercise program that includes strength training, aerobic exercises, and range-of-motion and stretching exercises.

As you’re improving your arthritis symptoms, physical activity also helps lower stress. Exercising regularly may even work as well as medication for lowering anxiety and depression, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Practice relaxation. Meditation, yoga, and tai chi can all help you relax, which can help you deal with anxiety and depression associated with arthritis, Dr. Danesh says. Yoga and tai chi can also help with joint coordination, posture, and balance.

Lean on friends. Having a social support network is part of what can help give you better coping skills in dealing with arthritis, Danesh says. Being with family and friends not only can help lift your mood, but it can also give you people to turn to when you need help with tasks and when you need to talk.

Turn in early. Getting enough sleep will help you feel refreshed in the morning and can also help reduce joint pain, which can boost your mood and improve your outlook. A study published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research in October 2015 found that people with knee osteoarthritis had more pain if they suffered from insomnia.

It might seem hard to get more sleep when you’re in pain, but the National Sleep Foundation says making sleep a priority really can help. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol and practicing relaxation techniques can help you meet your sleep goals. And if you take sleeping pills or painkillers, be sure to do it under a doctor’s supervision.

Reset your thinking. In the insomnia study, researchers also found that people with osteoarthritis who “catastrophized,” or viewed their disease negatively, experienced more pain. Keeping a positive outlook is critical when you have arthritis, Danesh says.

 “Be grateful and focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t,” he says. If this is too difficult to do alone, talk to your doctor about your feelings or see a therapist for help.


The above information is not medical advice, for reference only / from : Michelle



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