All posts related to "depression"

JointHealth™ insight – February 2019

Mental Health and arthritis: a complex relationship

In the latest issue of JointHealth™ insight, Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE) reports on the important relationship between mental health and arthritis. People with inflammatory arthritis are more likely to experience mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and “brain fog” than the general population.

This issue of JointHealth™ insight will cover the following:

  • Relationships between depression, “brain fog” and inflammatory arthritis
  • Burden of depression
  • Recognizing and managing depression and anxiety
  • Prevent depression and anxiety
  • Love, sex, and arthritis*

*Please be advised that the content in this section contain graphics of “joint friendly” positions during sex and may not be appropriate for you or others in your household. The graphics are excerpted from the book, “Rheumatoid Arthritis: Plan to Win”, by Cheryl Koehn, Dr. John Esdaile and Taysha Palmer published by Oxford University Press, 2002.

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Keeping active with arthritis: a key to improved physical and mental health

Much has been said and written about the importance of exercise for our health and wellbeing. However, for people with arthritis, it also can help manage symptoms. While people with arthritis may be reluctant to exercise fearing joint damage, exercise is especially crucial for people living with all forms of arthritis disease. In fact, exercise is a vitally important part of a well-rounded arthritis treatment plan.

For people living with arthritis, pain, body weight, age and lack of knowledge about appropriate types of exercises may be hurdles to getting started on an exercise program. Another barrier is the lack of recommendation and referral for exercise by physicians. A Canadian study of osteoarthritis patients showed that only one third had been advised to exercise by their doctor. However, exercise has numerous physical and mental health benefits and there are no specific exercises that should be avoided by people with arthritis. 

One of the most important benefits of exercise is weight management, which helps to improve body image and can improve the symptoms of arthritis, especially of osteoarthritis. If a person is heavier than their ideal body weight, even a small amount of weight loss can help reduce both the risk of developing certain types of osteoarthritis and the chances of osteoarthritis worsening with age. 

For everyone, exercise helps to improve heart and lung function, but for people living with arthritis, a variety of types of exercise can help to reduce joint pain and control joint swelling. These include:

  • Range of motion exercises help to keep the joints mobile and are also useful for helping to prevent injuries.
  • Weight bearing exercises can decrease bone loss, keep weak joints stable, and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Aerobic exercises, such as walking, help with weight loss. As well, exercise can help make it easier to fall asleep and to sleep more soundly.

In addition to improved physical health, exercise has many psychological benefits. Pain can seem more pronounced when we are unhappy or upset and exercise can help reduce depression. Additionally, it can improve self-esteem and self-confidence, improve the ability to relax, improve mood and wellbeing, and promote a good body image. Exercise also provides a good outlet for dealing with stress and anxiety. 

Research suggests that most types of physical activity do not cause or worsen arthritis. In contrast, a lack of physical activity is associated with increased muscle weakness, joint stiffness, reduced range of motion, fatigue and overall reduced physical fitness. 

Once a regular pattern of exercise has been established, it is important to maintain this pattern.

In order to get the benefits of exercise, it is vital to stay active.

Research shows that in people with osteoarthritis, once exercise stops, the reduced pain and disability they were experiencing ends.

To ensure that you keep up with a routine of exercising, consider joining a group program or bringing a friend or family member along to motivate you.

Eight ways to get started exercising:

  1. Try to choose a type of exercise, or an exercise program, that you enjoy. It will be much easier to stick to the program if you like what you are doing. Most types of activities are helpful for people living with arthritis, so feel free to do your favourite things such as walking, swimming, golfing, or gardening. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous or boring to be good for you.
  2. Community centres can be a terrific resource. Flip through the lists of classes offered at your local community or aquatic centre to find activities that best suit your interests and physical abilities.
  3. You may find that having a partner to exercise with will be more motivating. Research tells us that people are more likely to stick with exercises if they bring along a friend or family member.
  4. Sometimes, having a detailed list of activities and realistic goals will help motivate you, so it may be useful to get a referral to a physical therapist to create an appropriate exercise regimen that suits you and your body. Also, keeping an exercise log can help you and your therapist monitor your progress.
  5. For some, assistive devices such as splints or orthotics may be helpful for protecting your joints while you exercise. An occupational therapist can be a good resource.
  6. Before beginning a new exercise program, it is a good idea to speak with your doctor or health care provider to determine the most appropriate exercise or activity for your needs and capabilities. Also, be aware that during flare-ups it is important not to over-stress and over-work joints, which may cause more pain. For this reason it is important to speak to your doctor about exercise and the types of exercises most suitable.
  7. Try setting a firm goal and then rewarding yourself when you achieve it. For example, set a goal of swimming 5 laps. When you reach that goal, reward yourself, and then set a new goal of swimming 10 laps. Rewards can be anything that is meaningful to you: setting aside time for yourself, treating yourself to a massage or a good book, or going out for a meal with friends.
  8. Acknowledge your effort. Be proud of yourself for taking an active role in your health care.

Today is World Mental Health Day! Did you know that 1/3 of people with arthritis have anxiety or depression?

Positive Mental Health infographicPositive mental health is the capacity of people to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance the ability to enjoy life and deal with challenges, such as living with arthritis. Having a strong social support network can help. Continue reading below to learn the relationship between depression and arthritis and ways to help avoid and alleviate depression.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 54.4 million (22.7%) adults in the United States have doctor-diagnosed arthritis – approximately one-third of them report having anxiety or depression, with anxiety more common than depression.

According to a recent National Health Interview Survey, in adults with arthritis, the prevalence of anxiety is 22.5% and the prevalence of depression is 12.1%. This estimates to about two-thirds higher than those living without arthritis or 10.3 million arthritis patients with symptoms of anxiety or depression – 4.9 million had anxiety only, 1.3 million had depression only, and 4.1 million had symptoms of both anxiety and depression.

The survey also found that anxiety and depression were more common for people who: Continue reading

National Relaxation Day: Tips to manage stress from arthritis

Arthritis affects people of all ages and can cause stress, and in more serious cases, depression and anxiety. Pain researchers are discovering how emotions, thoughts, and behaviours can influence the level of pain someone experiences and how well they adjust to it. For instance, how an individual responds to stress can predict how well they will recover from hip replacement surgery. Even how a patient feels about whether their coping strategies are working, or not, can affect their experience of the pain itself. Other factors that can influence how well you manage with your disease are whether you feel helpless, tend to spend a lot of time thinking about your pain, whether you decide to accept your pain and carry on in spite of it, and how well you handle stress. Arthritis Broadcast Network believes people living with arthritis deserve extra relaxation on National Relaxation Day and hope that the following tips will help you relax!

Breathing

Rhythmic breathing and deep breathing can help release tension from everyday life. The former involves inhaling and exhaling slowly while counting to five; the latter can be accomplished by filling your abdomen with air, like inflating and deflating a balloon.

Exercise 

Image of someone cycling on the shared bike pathwayHarvard Health summarizes the benefits of exercise as follows: Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins are responsible for the “runner’s high” and for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts — or, at least, the hot shower after your exercise is over. Continue reading

Tips to manage or reduce mental stress associated with your arthritis

According to the “Psychological well-being among US adults with arthritis and the unmet need for mental health care” published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the prevalence of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and serious psychological distress (SPD; a nonspecific indicator of mental health problems) is higher among adults with arthritis compared to the general population.

The study finds that in individuals with arthritis, mental health issues interact with other health conditions and symptoms of arthritis (e.g., pain, fatigue, and disability) such that a decline in one area can directly or indirectly affect the others. Mental health issues can increase the severity of disability, interfere with disease management, and increase disease severity and mortality. Providing mental health support for arthritis patients can improve their overall wellbeing. It has been documented that treating depression can improve medication adherence, and improve both psychological and physical outcomes for patients.

An important strategy for reducing the pain of arthritis is treating your depression. Two approaches can be used, non-pharmacological and pharmacological, together or individually.

Separate from improving mood, antidepressants have been shown to reduce pain in many different chronic conditions, including arthritis, and they work even when depression is not a factor. How these drugs work to reduce pain is not fully understood, but may have to do with improving sleep, relaxing muscles, or increasing neurotransmitters in the spinal cord that are responsible for lessening pain signals.

Couple on a beach with grassy foreground to represent mental illnessPlease consult your doctor to discuss your treatment options.

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It’s not your fault you are depressed…YOU are not making your RA worse

Woman with text It's not your fault you are depressedPeople living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are twice as likely as the rest of the population to feel depressed. An important thing to understand is that it is NOT your fault you are depressed, therefore, YOU are not making your RA worse. It is natural to feel anxious or sad as a result of the diagnosis and to be depressed as a symptom of the disease. Instead, realise that it just demonstrates that rheumatoid arthritis is a complex condition that may require multiple levels of treatment; and, that an important strategy for reducing the pain of arthritis is treating your depression. Two approaches can be used, non-pharmacological and pharmacological, together or individually.

Separate from improving mood, antidepressants have been shown to reduce pain in many different chronic conditions, including arthritis, and they work even when depression is not a factor. How these drugs work to reduce pain is not fully understood, but may have to do with improving sleep, relaxing muscles, or increasing neurotransmitters in the spinal cord that are responsible for lessening pain signals.

Please consult your doctor to discuss your treatment options.

There are many strategies you can try, which you may find useful for helping you to avoid or alleviate depression without using drugs. No matter what suggestions you decide will work best for you, we recommend you speak with your doctor or therapist before getting started: Continue reading

Chronic diseases decrease social participation in middle-age population

Three girls in front of a blue backgroundA recent study from McMaster University found that middle-aged adults living with a combination of arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and/or depression are more likely to experience disability and limited involvement in society.

The research was conducted by Lauren Griffith, an associate professor in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatics and the McLaughlin Foundation Professorship in Population and Public Health. Researchers from McMaster University published the study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community HealthThey found that physical and mental chronic diseases, alone or in combination, were associated with disability and reduced social participation. The results differed by gender and age. Continue reading

EULAR: Updated recommendations for fibromyalgia

A woman deep in thought in the shadowThe European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) has published updated recommendations on the management of fibromyalgia. The detailed recommendations can be found in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized primarily by chronic widespread pain (CWP) in the muscles, ligaments and tendons, and a heightened sensitivity to touch resulting in pain that can last for months.

Common signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia include: Continue reading

Increased risk of attempted suicide in patients with arthritis

Two people sitting with backs to each otherA new study from the University of Toronto found that people living with arthritis are 46 percent more likely to attempt suicide than those living without arthritis.

In the study, researchers looked at factors associated with ever having attempted suicide in a sample of 4,885 patients with arthritis across Canada and 16,859 patients without arthritis. All the data were collected from the 2012 Canadian Health Survey-Mental Health. The research found that: Continue reading

Ways to help your loved one live with RA and depression

Rheumatoid arthritis can increase the chances of depression; depression may worsen RA symptoms, leading to higher disease activity and disability, which in turn can lead to depression. Several studies have indicated that depression in those with rheumatoid arthritis is linked to greater joint pain and other symptoms of RA such as fatigue and sleep disturbances, decreased immune function, and a higher mortality rate. Untreated depression may cause you to be less likely to take care of yourself, less motivated to stick to a treatment plan, more likely to isolate yourself from friends and family and avoid activities you once enjoyed.

It is estimated that people living with RA are twice as likely to suffer from depression. Research shows that approximately 13 to 20 percent of the population currently living with RA are already depressed. A study published in the Rheumatology medical journal states that women living with RA are almost twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts and commit suicide.

“Many people with suicidal thoughts brought on by chronic illness will not come out right and say what they are thinking,” said Thea Barrieau, a SeniorBridge Care Manager. If you are concerned that someone you know are having suicidal thoughts, look out for the following suicidal warning signs and seek help from a medical professional:

  • Gathering friends and family “one last time” or “to say goodbye”.
  • Verbal or physical signs that allude to an inability to “cope” with the chronic illness, giving up, or a lack of motivation to do everyday and new tasks.
  • Skipping medication dosages or trying a new medication regimen.

It’s not your fault you are depressed

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