Adjusting to a New Psoriatic Arthritis Diagnosis
Care for your emotional and physical health as you manage psoriatic arthritis (PsA).
Learning you have psoriatic arthritis (PsA) can be hard – even if you’ve had psoriasis for years. When it’s a total surprise, you have challenges you never expected. You have to learn to live with an illness that may never go away. You deal with pain, concerns about your looks, changing your habits and people treating you differently. You’ll also be dealing with doctors, treatments and medicines. Even though you may feel overwhelmed, know that you are not alone.
Here are four ways to prepare for the long haul and live your best life with PsA.
In the face of hardship, you may want to pull away from everyone. But don’t give in to that feeling.
It’s natural to want to be alone, worry and hide your feelings. All of your emotions are okay. Share those feelings with someone you trust. If you isolate yourself and spend your time thinking about pain and worrying about the future, matters will only get worse. Try not to give in to negative thoughts.
Build a Support Network
Connecting with people can help you get through tough times. This doesn’t just mean friends and family. Sometimes the best support people are those who have PsA too.
You can find with them through an online community or a local support group. The Arthritis Foundation offers both through the LiveYes! Network. Online forum and support group members lift you up when you need it and give you tried-and-true tips about life with PsA.
You can get a two-fold benefit by combining physical activity and community. Participate in Walk to Cure Arthritis or Jingle Bell Run. Or find a workout buddy at an Arthritis Foundation Live Yes Connect Group in your area. Find more information through your local office.
Practice Emotional Self-Care
A phrase you may hear from people in the PsA community is, “You are not your disease.” This can be hard to believe when you don’t feel like yourself. But you’re the same person you always were; you just have new challenges.
Some advice from those in the know:
- Acknowledge and accept your feelings, but try not to let them weigh you down.
- Ask for help when you need it. If you don’t want help, it’s okay to say “no.”
- You may not be able to fully control your disease, but you can control how you think, react and feel about it.
Recognize Emotional Problems
Many people with PsA struggle with sleep and mood. This makes sense, especially when you have sore joints and itchy skin. But that’s not the whole story. Your body and brain work together. The inflammation that causes your joint and skin symptoms can trigger changes in your brain too. These changes can affect your mood.
If you are feeling low or can’t sleep, try exercise, stress relief and emotional support from friends and family. If they don’t help, ask your doctor for a referral to a mental health professional. Feeling better emotionally will give you physical benefits as well.
The Arthritis Foundation is here to provide support and information on your journey. Get connected to our Live Yes Arthritis Network, find your local office or call our Help Line.
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