Lupus is a challenging, life-altering lifelong chronic autoimmune disease. On bad days, living optimistically with lupus can seem like an impossible task. It is common to experience feelings of sadness, frustration, resentment, and grief. When these temporary negative feelings turn into long-lasting aggravations, they may be signalling an illness called clinical depression.
It is common for patients of chronic disease to suffer from clinical depression, although the connection is not yet well understood. Studies show that 60% of people with a chronic illness suffer from depression at some point in their lives. Some symptoms of lupus like loss of energy, difficulty sleeping, and constant fatigue can mimic depression. Remember: do not diagnose yourself and always communicate with your doctor.
According to numerous studies and anecdotal evidence from the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario and Toronto Distress Centre Here, the frequency and intensity of calls for depression are rise significantly in the months of November and December. In this time of change, here are some steps to take if you have lupus and depression:
- Talk with your doctor.Your doctor can assess, diagnose, and help you find the best treatment for you.
- Move to accept your lupus diagnosis. Dwelling on feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness from being diagnosed with lupus too long is detrimental to your mental and physical well being. Moving to accepting the diagnosis will help you find a new normal in your life.
- Avoid negative self-talk. When your lupus symptoms are acting up and you are unable to perform a task, do not put yourself down. It is not your fault.
- Surround yourself with supportive people. Join a lupus support group. Speak to a professional. Enjoy time with friends and family.
- One day at a time. Try not to overwhelm yourself with too much. Breaking up each week, each day, each hour into manageable pieces will encourage mindfulness and make tasks less daunting.
- Watch your mood closely. By keeping track of your mood, you can prevent slipping into very bad feelings when you notice a small change.
- Keep a list of ways to feel better. Write down thoughts and activities that boost your mood. Keep the list handy.
- Exercise. Regular physical activity is important for all lupus patients to control flares and manage physical symptoms, but it is also a great way to improve mood. Endorphins released during exercise helps improve self-esteem and mental well-being.
- Eat healthy. Take care of yourself to manage symptoms of lupus and depression. Eat a well-balanced diet and get plenty of sleep.
- Learn everything you can about lupus. Knowing your disease and getting involved with your treatment will help you feel empowered and lessen feelings of anxiety.