Having arthritis can make you feel down. Being in pain can be very tiring and can affect your sleep. Sometimes having arthritis can impact on your social life and stop you doing the things you enjoy. There are many ways to help you deal with your emotions and it is a good idea to set aside some time each day to help yourself feel more positive. Below are some things to do when you are feeling low or depressed:
- Make sure you keep in contact with other people – when you are feeling low you often do not feel like speaking to other people but the more you spend time alone the more you think about how low you feel. Sometimes just having to speak to others can help brighten your mood. Choose the friends and family that are likely to be supportive. It can help to talk things over, but don’t dwell on the negative.
- Plan something fun – make a plan to do something fun in the near future, maybe meeting up with friends or family you haven’t seen in a while.
- Make sure to go out every day – even if you don’t feel like it try to get out of the house everyday even if it’s just to take a short walk.
- Make sure that you move your body – take a short walk outside or do some simple exercises.
- Try to get enough sleep. Decide on a routine and stick to it; that means going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time each day. If sleep is difficult, distraction from worrying or negative thoughts can be useful. Listen to the radio, read or listen to relaxing music. If the mind is occupied, it’s less able to focus on worry.
- If you’re finding it hard to cope avoid alcohol, cannabis and other recreational drugs. They may appear to help, but in the long-term cause problems in themselves.
- If you have a spiritual life, talk to your clergy or advisor, they may be able to help you with a range of supportive measures.
- Concentrate on doing the activities that make you happy. One of the first ways of tackling low mood is to change behaviour, and increasing pleasurable activities gives you an immediate lift.
- A good relaxation and/or meditation routine can help reduce anxiety and feelings of stress. It takes practice, but can be worth it in the end. Alternatively you might like to investigate a technique known as ‘Mindfulness’ . Studies have indicated that Mindfulness-based interventions for people with physical health conditions can show benefit in improving psychological well-being.
- Many people who feel depressed lose interest in how they look. Dressing every day and taking pride in your appearance can help raise your self-esteem.
- Reward yourself with positive treats to remind yourself that you deserve good things.
- Set yourself goals – This is a good way to help you look to the future. You could set a short-term goal such as buying a favourite magazine, or a long-term goal such as planning to visit some old friends in another town. By making sure that your goals are realistic and positive, you will be giving yourself something to look forward to achieving every day.
Am I depressed?
Feeling low or depressed is a common symptom of arthritis. Many people are not even aware that they are depressed – often family and friends are the first to notice. Depression is a feeling of unhappiness and despair and can range from being a mild problem to a very severe one. If someone has very severe depression it is a medical problem and they should seek medical help.
There are a number of signs that you may be depressed:
- lose interest in friends and activities
- withdraw from other people
- sleep difficulties – tiredness
- increased or decreased appetite
- lose interest in how you look
- lose interest in sex and intimacy
- suicidal thoughts
- low self-image, low self-esteem, self-critical
- easily irritated
- difficulty in making decisions
- difficulty in concentrating
Sometimes it is other people who notice that you aren’t quite ‘yourself’ and may suggest you go to see your GP or talk to your rheumatologist or clinical nurse specialist. The important thing is that you seek help if you have been feeling low for some time or are very anxious about things.