How To Cope With Anxiety When Living With Psoriatic Arthritis

by Staff

Living with psoriatic arthritis can be incredibly challenging, as you have to deal with persistent joint pain, which is debilitating at times. Most people are forced to overhaul their lifestyles significantly as psoriatic arthritis requires lifelong treatment and care. This combination of painful symptoms and added responsibilities can be overwhelming for most people, which is why they face a higher risk of anxiety and depressive disorders. Aside from the fact that anxiety will diminish your quality of life, it’s important to keep it in check because anxiety and stress can trigger flares and worsen symptoms. 

How Anxiety Worsens Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms

Anxiety and stress are known to increase inflammation in the body, which leads to a worsening of psoriatic arthritis symptoms, including joint pain and stiffness. Anxiety also increases tension and tightness in the muscles, which can put greater stress on the joints. High levels of anxiety are also associated with impaired immune function, which could worsen the autoimmune component of psoriatic arthritis.

Anxiety can also impact psoriatic arthritis management indirectly as it makes it harder to adhere to treatment, and can give rise to unhealthy coping mechanisms and sleep impairment, which can trigger more frequent and severe flare-ups. 

Tips To Keep Anxiety In Check When You Have Psoriatic Arthritis

Increase Your Awareness

Knowledge is empowering when dealing with a condition like psoriatic arthritis. Learn more about psoriatic arthritis from trusted sources so that you can better understand how the condition works, potential triggers and complications, as well as lifestyle changes and treatments that are effective. If you better understand psoriatic arthritis and know how to manage it, you can reduce the frequency of painful flares, also lowering your stress levels and avoiding unnecessary anxiety. After all, anxiety has a higher prevalence in people who experience higher levels of pain and more frequent flares.

Go Easy On Your Self

Self-care is a significant part of any effort to manage psoriatic arthritis, so make yourself a priority. Do not try to manage everything yourself at home or work – ask others for help and learn to say “no” when necessary. Adopting the many lifestyle changes required to keep psoriatic arthritis in check can be overwhelming, so try to make one change at a time, but be consistent. Most importantly, be patient and cut yourself some slack. Celebrate the small victories and focus on what you are managing, rather than what remains to be done. 

Just Keep Moving

You already know that physical activity and gentle exercises can help ease psoriatic symptoms, but staying active also helps with anxiety. People who have restricted mobility and reduced physical activity because of joint pain are more vulnerable to anxiety and depressive disorders. If the prospect of adopting an exercise routine is too intimidating, just engage in low-intensity activities that put minimal stress on affected joints. Swimming is one of the best ways to stay active without stressing the joints. Walking, gardening, cycling, and dancing are some other activities that can help, and all of them will boost your mood.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness-based interventions are a powerful tool to improve quality of life as research shows that such interventions can reduce the intensity of arthritic pain and relieve anxiety and depression. Mindfulness techniques can include the use of guided imagery, mindful eating, and mindful living to live in the moment and be more aware, as well as in control of your thoughts and feelings. This can help to break out of patterns of stress or anxiety that may otherwise escalate.  

Reach Out For Help

If you feel like you can’t manage your stress or anxiety despite trying, it will help to talk to a professional therapist such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, behavioral therapist, or any other mental health professional. In addition to therapy, it would also be a good idea to connect with a support group as communicating with other people who have psoriatic arthritis will reduce feelings of isolation. Their stories can also provide you with guidance and motivation, making it easier to manage both psoriatic arthritis and anxiety.

All You Need Is Love

Talk to loved ones and spend more time in their company as socializing is important for your emotional wellbeing. People who have stronger social connections and relationships tend to have better mental health and are less vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Research shows that even interacting with animals can reduce anxiety and significantly boost quality of life, so consider getting a pet or volunteering at an animal shelter in your neighborhood.

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The New Jersey Digest is a new jersey magazine that has chronicled daily life in the Garden State for over 10 years.

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