Table of Contents
Rheumatoid arthritis and depression go hand-in-hand.
It sounds obvious, but the fact that RA and depression are so intimately intertwined has more to it than simply the fact that you’re living with pain.
There are a lot of factors involved, and we’re here to break them down for you.
Read on and we’ll show you the relationship between the two and some proven ways to minimize it.
The Relation of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Depression
Anyone who’s in chronic pain is going to go through bouts of depression.
It’s natural, after all.
It’s an isolating experience, to say the least, especially if no one else around you has the disease themselves.
Making people understand chronic pain often feels impossible.
But the truth is that if you’re feeling depressed and suffer from rheumatoid arthritis then you’re not alone and it’s not just caused by the pain.
The truth is that those who have RA are twice as likely to experience depression as those without it.
Some of the causes most likely relate to the inflation caused by the autoimmune disorder.
Inflammation itself is correlated with depression even without the compounding factors that are caused by your rheumatoid arthritis.
The Feedback Loop
The depression partially caused by your rheumatoid arthritis in a physiological sense is actually making things worse.
Depression is linked with an increase in the following symptoms:
- Increase in cardiovascular risk
- Sexual dysfunction
Of course, an increase in those symptoms is also likely to leave you even more depressed than you were, to begin with.
Which begets worse symptoms.
It’s known as a negative feedback loop, and breaking the cycle can feel nearly impossible.
Thankfully, there’s hope.
Breaking the Cycle of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Depression
If you’re experiencing these symptoms then perhaps it’s time to take charge of your disease.
Just because it’s a chronic condition doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you can do to manage it.
A big fear many people have when they’re originally diagnosed with RA is that they’ll have to spend the rest of their life hooked on hardcore painkillers just to be able to function.
Thankfully, there are a lot of natural ways which you can try before you resort to more drastic measures.
Change Your Diet
Anti-inflammatory foods are a must for anyone who is dealing with RA.
A well-planned diet can do wonders in slowing down the pain and reducing the fatigue which this disease has brought upon you.
You’ll want to make sure your diet is high in the following:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Omega-3 fatty acids
It’s more than just adding foods to your diet that will help, however.
You’ll also want to avoid “trigger foods” which can cause outbreaks.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the same trigger foods or management would be much easier.
You should pay a lot of attention to what you eat and how your RA treats you afterward.
Some of the foods which seem to commonly crop up are:
- Red meat
- Anything with gluten
- Refined sugars
The one constant seems to be foods which grow from plants in the nightshade family.
These include a surprising amount of our common vegetables so keep an eye out for potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, goji berries, and eggplants.
Your best bet is always going to be determining how you feel.
Low Impact Exercise
Low impact exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Obviously, with RA dogging your heels you’re not going to be taking up marathon running but you can get a great workout without hitting your joints too hard.
Some of my favorites include:
- Tai Chi or Yoga
- Resistance training
All of these are relatively soft on the joints except for extreme resistance training.
If you decide to lift weights then try higher repetitions with lower weight to avoid straining your joints.
There are a number of dietary supplements which can help to ease the inflammation causing your pain.
Omega fatty acids are common and one of the best.
This vital nutrient can also be found in fish if you’re able to tolerate it on a regular basis but it’s almost impossible to eat enough fish to worry about how much of it is in your system.
Chondroitin and glucosamine are some of the best.
They can be found in the supplements section of nearly any store, whether a pharmacy, supplement specialist or even a big box store with a limited inventory.
Keep Up the Body, Keep Up the Mind
In addition to the things which you do for yourself physically, it’s important to keep up your mental condition.
I know it’s hard when your disease flares up particularly bad.
Often you won’t even want to get out of bed, but some simple mental practices will help you to succeed in managing your symptoms.
Meditation is strongly correlated with a decrease in depression.
While it won’t manage all of your RA symptoms by itself, it can definitely be a huge plus since it may interrupt that negative feedback loop we discussed at the beginning of the article.
For others, spiritual practices like prayer may also be quite useful.
The important thing is to break the cycle to allow you to live your life, no matter what might help you.
Are You Ready to Learn?
I began my journey through RA and away from traditional medicine which seemed to just prolong things and make them worse.
Diet, exercise, supplementation, and the right mindset are key to overcoming.
Rheumatoid arthritis and depression are linked, that much is true, but you can work through them with natural methods and a bit of know-how.
If you’re ready to learn more about my journey then perhaps it’s time that you get my free e-book to begin your own trek to manageable RA symptoms.