Arthritic pain is mostly very severe, and some patients cannot bear/deal with the pain and get depressive. Such feelings make a person feel sad, helpless & tired; resulting in depression. Some depressed people start thinking about suicide or even attempt suicide.
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are two times more prone to develop depression as compared to the rest of the population. Depression may result due to many reasons. It may occur due to the shock of diagnosing an unpredictable disorder. It may also develop due to fatigue or feeling of isolation and helplessness associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
The Connection Between Arthritis and Depression
Mental health can get negatively affected due to the development of any form of arthritis. Patients with arthritis and depression are prone to suffer more functional limitations. And usually, they are not able to follow their prescribed dosage regimen.
- Pain and Depression: Studies reveal that patients with severe arthritis pain are the most prone to suffer depression. The exact cause of the connection between pain and depression is not known. Regular pain becomes physically and emotionally very stressful, which in the long run affects the levels of chemicals in the brain. Imbalance of chemicals responsible for mood, thinking, and behavior causes the development of depression.
- Inflammation and Depression: Detection of C-Reactive protein in a blood test is an indicator of inflammation. The level of this protein in the blood controls the inflammation in the body. Increased production of this protein causes the development of depression.
- Lifestyle and Depression: Arthritis condition involves pain, fatigue, and inflammation. It may also cause the co-occurrence of other conditions like diabetes. Therefore, a person is not able to continue a healthy lifestyle which includes regular exercise and quality sleep. The negative changes in a lifestyle can increase the pain and affect the mood of a person.
How Important Is It to Treat Depression in Arthritis Patients?
Arthritis patients who are depressed are not able to take care of themselves. As both pain and mental health are connected with each other, so not treating one can affect the other significantly. A person suffering from depression will not want to exercise that can result in loss of joint function. Therefore, for the treatment of arthritis, it is also important to treat depression. If an arthritis patient does not get treatment for depression, then the symptoms for arthritis can worsen.
An arthritis patient must consult the doctor for the treatment of depression if
- low energy persists for two or more weeks,
- if depression is disturbing your personal and professional life
- if you have thoughts of harming yourself
What Are the Common Treatment Options for Depression in Arthritis Patients?
There are many treatment options for depression in arthritis patients:
- Psychotherapy: It’s also called counselling. In this therapy, the therapist works to decrease the depression. The aim of this therapy is to change the negative behavior and thought pattern.
- Medicines: There are many medicines that are used in the treatment of depression such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs). Talk to your doctor about the side effects of these medicines before using them.
- Alternative treatments such as acupuncture, yoga or meditation can also help you to combat depression.