If you know a family member or loved one with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), here are tips on offering them support and finding support groups. If your loved one has been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), you might not always know how PsA can affect them physically and emotionally. PsA can impact mental health, and mental health can also affect PsA.People with the condition need to
If your loved one has been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), you might not always know how PsA can affect them physically and emotionally. PsA can impact mental health, and mental health can also affect PsA.
People with the condition need to seek help from a mental health professional to treat depression or anxiety if they occur. Not doing anything can worsen PsA symptoms and pain, and PsA can exacerbate depression and anxiety.
In addition, if you are a caregiver, you might experience higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health effects. You might also consider seeking out mental health support or support group help for yourself.
This article will cover how PsA affects mental health and how to support a loved one with PsA.
Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health conditions experienced by people with psoriatic arthritis. According to a 2020 report, 1 in 3 will experience mild anxiety, and 1 in 5 will report mild depression. The report notes people with PsA and anxiety or depression experience more significant disease activity.
Research has also found living with PsA carries a high psychosocial burden. One 2020 Arthritis Care & Care study found people with PsA or psoriasis (an autoimmune skin condition that occurs in PsA or by itself) experience disruption in "functioning, roles, and life course."
They might also have unmet treatment expectations. The study's authors concluded these effects are managed by addressing treatment expectations and supporting psychosocial needs.
Stress is a major trigger for people with PsA, and the stress-PsA cycle can be vicious. PsA can make a person stressed, and stress can worsen PsA symptoms. One 2015 Rheumatology study found people with PsA were more prone to joint pain, skin symptoms, and fatigue when dealing with stress.
Caring for a loved one can be rewarding but also comes with stressors. It can affect physical health and lead to burnout and emotional and mental exhaustion. If you get to that point, your caregiving will likely suffer.
A 2018 Archives of Mental Health study found that most caregivers (who usually were first-degree relatives and women) experienced a significantly higher risk for psychiatric illnesses compared to medical illnesses.
As a caregiver, your emotional and physical well-being is as important as making sure your loved one takes their medications as prescribed and gets to medical appointments. If you find you are burned out or experiencing a mood disorder, make an appointment with a mental health counselor.
Showing someone with PsA that you care isn't different from showing almost anyone that you care for them. There are many ways to show your support and show your loved one you are willing to be supportive.
To understand the impact of PsA, you must learn about the disease. Learn about the symptoms of PsA, treatments, and medication side effects. Educating yourself about PsA can help you understand the unique problems and challenges the condition brings daily.
An excellent place to better understand the effects of PsA is by joining a PsA support group, either in person or online. By learning about the different perspectives of people living with the condition, you can gain a broader understanding of what your loved one might experience.
You may also consider attending a support group meeting with your loved one with PsA.
There might be times when your loved one might want to share their emotions and challenges about living with PsA. Listen to what your loved one tells you and what they need from you.
Even if your loved one is not specific, they may offer clues in their conversation. For example, if your friend shares they have so much to do but are exhausted or in pain, ask what they need help with, such as chores, cooking dinner, etc.
Ask your loved one if they would like you to accompany them to a healthcare provider's appointment. By doing so, you show you are supporting them. This is also an opportunity to ask questions about things you don't understand.
When showing love and support, treat the person with PsA as you would if they did not have PsA. Do not allow the problems of PsA to affect your relationship with your friend or family member.
Your loved one might have limitations and needs, which will keep changing. As a result, they need stable friendships and relationships.
Living with PsA is filled with good days, bad days, and in-between days. The rollercoaster can be frustrating for both you and your loved one. Try to be patient when PsA is harder and take advantage of good days.
The uncertainty of the condition can be challenging, but having support can make things easier for someone with PsA.
Friends and family usually mean well, but they don't always know the right things to say to someone with PsA. If you want to support your loved one with PsA, you may want to avoid some comments or actions.
Friends and family tend to make "helpful" suggestions as a way to show love and support. Often, these suggestions come off as presumptuous or condescending rather than helpful.
Suppose you put yourself in your loved one's shoes. They are already doing everything they can to research and manage PsA, so offering unsolicited advice might imply they aren't doing what they should.
While these suggestions and such advice come from a place of love, the best way to show your support is to acknowledge what you don't understand and simply offer support.
There needs to be a balance between support and overprotection. While your loved one with PsA might have disease limitations, they can still do a lot. Don't downgrade their abilities by being too overprotective.
While it is human nature to make assumptions, it is not wise to assume what someone with PsA feels. PsA can be unpredictable, and it can affect a person on a day-to-day basis.
But for someone who hasn't lived with the condition, you can't begin to understand or know what someone with PsA is going through. For example, just because someone is not in visible pain doesn't mean they aren't experiencing pain.
You can find support groups online or in your local community for yourself and your loved one living with PsA.
Online resources, including articles, blogs, and podcasts, can offer information and news about PsA and provide opportunities to connect with others. The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) is the largest online community of people with PsA and psoriasis.
The Arthritis Foundation also offers a wide variety of information about PsA on its website to help you better manage and understand the condition. They also have an online forum that connects people around the country.
You might also consider meeting with people in your local community who have PsA. The Arthritis Foundation has local support groups throughout the United States.
There are resources to help people with PsA and their loved ones learn about PsA and find support. Resources include websites, blogs, books, smart device apps, and more.
The National Psoriasis Foundation's Patient Navigation Center offers one-on-one virtual assistance via email, phone, text, or video chat on psoriatic arthritis concerns.
The center's resource team is staffed with patient navigators, who are non-medical professionals. They can help people with psoriatic arthritis find local healthcare providers and resources, assistance with treatment costs, health insurance information, and more.
Blogs (online columns written by an individual about a topic) are a helpful resource for what it is like to live with PsA.
NPF contributor Julie Cerrone who has PsA, depression, anxiety, and more, shares her experiences in her blog "It's Just a Bad Day, Not a Bad Life."
Her mission is to remain positive even when things seem hard. She strives to help others learn to live better with chronic illness and create support systems that make living with PsA and other chronic conditions a little bit easier.
Many different smart device applications (apps) are available to manage aspects of living with PsA and other types of arthritis.
Track + React from the Arthritis Foundation can help people with PsA and their caregivers track pain, sleep, nutrition, physical activity, mood, and treatments. The app can help identify disease trends and provide medication reminders. It is available for both Android and Apple devices.
Another app, Flaredown, is available to iPhone and Android users and helps identify and track PsA triggers. It can also help you track PsA and mental health symptoms, exercise, diet, medication, and weather effects.
Reading about another person's experiences and perspectives can help educate you about PsA and its effects on a friend or family member
"Psoriatic Arthritis," by Dafna D. Gladman, MD, and Vinod Chandran, MD, PhD, of the Psoriatic Arthritis Clinic at the University of Toronto, is based on research and clinical experience. It is a helpful resource for learning what the medical community knows about PsA and how healthcare providers and people with the condition approach it.
Not everyone with psoriatic arthritis has the same disease experience. As a result, it is sometimes difficult to know the best ways to support a loved one.
There are different ways to support your loved one, including educating yourself about PsA, attending medical appointments, and offering a listening ear, love, and support. Things to avoid when offering support are unsolicited advice, assumptions, and overprotection of your loved one.
There are also ways to educate yourself and get support as a caregiver and loved one of someone with PsA. These include online and in-person support groups, websites, blogs, books, and apps.
Trying to be supportive and helpful when supporting someone else comes with strong emotions. However, it is also natural to push aside your feelings to focus on your loved one's needs and concerns.
The problem with avoiding these emotions is they can damage your emotional health. However, dealing with these problematic emotions by seeking out support (including therapy) can help you reduce stress, improve your ability to care for yourself, and help you be realistic about your needs and those of your loved one.
Joint pain, swelling and stiffness, skin rashes, fatigue, nail changes, and decreased range of motion are symptoms of psoriatic arthritis and can be debilitating. Fortunately, PsA is treatable and manageable with medication, lifestyle therapies, and phototherapy.
Psoriatic arthritis is a lifelong condition with no cure. Treatments for PsA have come a long way and offer increased opportunities for low disease activity or remission, periods where a person with PsA has no symptoms.