Being diagnosed with a chronic disease like RA can make you feel confused, distressed, or hopeless. You have to deal with physical pain that leads to emotional pain, because you’re unable to go about your daily life or normal activities. While these temporary feelings of sadness are expected, if they last for more than a few weeks they may progress into depression that needs medical treatment.
Some symptoms of depression:
- Feelings of sadness or irritation
- Emptiness, hopelessness, or worthlessness
- Fatigue or decreased energy
- Trouble concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
- Having irregular sleep patterns, either from not being able to sleep or sleeping too much
- Changes in your diet, such as either eating too much or not wanting to eat at all
- Thoughts of death or suicide (or suicide attempts)
- Aches, pains, cramps, headaches, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause that don’t get better with treatment
People with chronic medical conditions have higher rates of depression for many reasons: the stress of treatment, the physical pain of the disease, and the interruption of a normal life. Although depression is common, it is NOT normal. What’s important to remember is that you are not alone. Your depression can be treated. Talk to your doctor about seeing a psychiatrist, starting different types of therapy, or taking medication to help ease your depression.
You can also take steps to develop better resilience, or the ability to learn from your challenges and stressors and rebound from them. This can help you keep up your mental and physical strength in the face of pain and anger due to your disease.
All people have natural resilience, but sometimes we need a little boost.