Monday next week is the kickoff of National Arthritis Week here in Ireland and the focus this year is on mental health. Arthritis Ireland is focused on highlighting the impact arthritis can have on your mental health and overall wellbeing.
It’s not surprising that arthritis is linked with poor mental health, anxiety, and depression. It can be difficult to live with regular pain and fatigue. This can affect your work, relationships, and many of the things that matter most to you.
Near 915,000 people in Ireland are living with Arthritis
Research has shown that near 20% of those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis experience depression and close to 30% developing depression within 5 years of their diagnosis.
‘’While the physical symptoms of arthritis, like fatigue and joint damage, are well recognized, there is much less awareness of the drastic effect the condition can have on mental health and well-being’’
Grainne O’Leary – Chief Executive Arthritis Ireland
Arthritis & Your Mental Health
Feeling depressed or anxious can have you feeling overwhelmed, and you may not be able to properly care for your arthritis or your mental health.
Feeling sad or depressed could mean you don’t have the will or energy to exercise. This can lead to loss of function.
On the other hand, pain and inflammation from your arthritis can make it harder to keep fit and exercise, and this can cause you to feel depressed or anxious.
Eventually, this vicious cycle affects more aspects of your life such as sleep, day-to-day activities, relationships, and self-care.
Looking After Your Mental Health:
Talk to Someone You Trust
Simply opening up and talking to someone about how you are feeling can be worth its weight in gold. Whether it’s a loved one, a friend, or a healthcare professional, never be afraid to open up.
Of course, it’s always easier to open up in a relaxed setting. Why not have a chat over a cup of tea? Feeling relaxed with a cuppa is a great start.
Don’t Let Stress Build-Up
We are all very busy and stress can set in at any time. Add arthritis to the mix of your worries and you are sure to see stress rear its ugly head from time to time. With stress, it’s important to know or to find out what puts pressure on you.
Think about or work out ways to avoid these pressures and if that’s unavoidable, it’s time to create a plan of action. How can you best deal with the pressures so that stress doesn’t settle in for a long stay?
Regular exercise can help with anxiety and depression. It is also good for your confidence and self-esteem.
For pain and inflammation, aerobic exercise is the best. Aerobic exercise is anything that makes you a little bit out of breath. Doing this releases chemicals around the body that are natural painkillers and can help lift your mood.
Of course, before deciding on an exercise plan, you should consult your doctor.
Vitamin D or the ”sunshine vitamin” is good for bone and joint health and it can help with depression. During the spring and summer months, getting at least 15 minutes a day of warm sun on bare skin can help.
For the autumn and winter months, vitamin D supplements are the way to go. We all know the sun hides a lot here in Ireland so vitamin D supplements are probably a good idea to take all year round.
Talk to Your Doctor
Arthritic pain can add to your feelings of depression and anxiety. There is evidence that a high level of inflammation will increase the number of chemicals in your blood that make depression more likely.
If you are experiencing flares, see your doctor or nurse and don’t understate your symptoms. It’s ok not to feel ok and they are there to help.
If you or someone you know is living with arthritis and are looking for mobility aids in the kitchen to help make life that little bit easier. Check out the Uccello Kettle – the ideal kettle for arthritic hands.