The general idea is that arthritis is a disease associated with old age. But rheumatoid arthritis or RA is a disease that can affect people even when they are in the prime of their life, especially women. It is an autoimmune disease that compels the immune systems of the body to attack itself. RA releases chemicals in the body known as ‘proinflammatory cytokines’. This same set of chemicals responsible for depression in a person.
The two are linked in a vicious cycle. Depression is a fallout of arthritis even if we take out the mentioned chemicals out of the picture. At the peak of one’s life, RA can wreck havoc because the patient begins to lose control over hands and legs. That can hamper movement and people suffering from this problem are unable to work properly as professionals. Such a life is bound to make the sufferer depressed. That depression is further propelled by the chemicals released due to the problem of RA.
The treatment procedure also focuses more on RA and little on the associated depression factor. Doctors prescribe medicines, sometimes physiotherapy to deal with RA. However, trained and professional psychologists are not consulted to handle the side-effects of RA which present themselves in the form of depression. In fact, a person suffering from depression and RA can sink further into problems because one is feeding the other. You will need a combat plan that takes both the physical condition of RA and the mental collateral of depression.
The ideal way to get out of this vicious cycle is to tackle the two problems together. Medication helps. In addition to medicines, regular exercise and learning stress management techniques need to go hand in hand. You need the help of support groups to ensure that you are sharing your frustration and daily problems with peers. That will give you motivation and confidence to handle things on your own, at your own pace. But you need to see a psychologist in addition to a physiotherapist.
In fact, if the depression bit of a patient suffering from RA is addressed, it can help the pain and suffering associated with RA. It will also help you understand your limitations due to RA and still make your life worth living.