Arthritis and depression: what you can do about it

06 September 2021
A lady hugging another lady.

It’s tough living with regular pain and fatigue. It can affect work, relationships and many of the things that matter most to you.

Learn more about the positive steps you can take to help stave off or treat anxiety and depression.

Talking to someone you trust can make a big difference

Whether it’s to a relative, friend, partner or healthcare professional, never be afraid to open up about how you’re feeling.

There are lots of professionals to help you through the tough times, this could be your local GP or someone at Samaritans, Anxiety UK or Mind. If you think you need it, asking for help could be the most important thing you do today.

Read more about relationships and how to strike a healthy balance.

Don’t let stress build up

Let’s face it, stress is pretty unavoidable in hectic lives. Add arthritis to the mix of potential worries such as money, work and relationships, and stress is bound to rear its ugly head from time to time.

It’s important to know what really puts pressure on you. Think about ways to avoid those situations occurring in the first place, and the best ways of dealing with them if they do. Here’s a good page on Mind’s website about stress.

Getting your arthritis treated will help your mental health

Pain can add to feelings of anxiety and depression. And there's evidence that high levels of inflammation will increase the amount of chemicals in your blood that make depression more likely and more serious.

If you’re experiencing flares, see your rheumatology consultant or nurse and don’t understate your symptoms to them. If you’re not fine, don’t say you are.

Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs and biological therapies can reduce inflammation and pain. If you have psoriatic arthritis, some of these drugs can help both your joints and skin.

Psoriasis can add to feelings of depression, anxiety and isolation. If you’re struggling, talk to your GP or dermatologist. There are good treatment options for psoriasis and support is available.

Find out how meditation and mindfulness might help you with your mental health

Exercise to release those natural, feel-good chemicals

Regular exercise can help with anxiety and depression. Aerobic exercise, which is anything that makes you at least a bit out of breath, is particularly beneficial. This releases chemicals around the body that are natural painkillers and can lift your mood.

Exercise is also good for self-confidence and self-esteem. It’s not always easy but starting off gently and gradually increasing the amount you do can lead to great results.

To help you manage your pain, medical experts have come together to produce these self-management resources to give you robust advice and exercises to help support you at home.

These are supported by NHS England and Improvement, The British Orthopaedic Association, The British Society of Rheumatology, The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Versus Arthritis and the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance.

Get out there and get some vitamin D

The ‘sunshine vitamin’ is good for bone and joint health, and it can help with depression.

On spring and summer days, getting 15 minutes of warm sun on bare skin, such as arms, legs and face will give you your daily dose.

Public Health England says we all need to take daily vitamin D supplements in the autumn and winter. Some people may need supplements all year round.

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