Social Support for Psoriatic Arthritis
Get more information about how getting social support from a formal group or a circle of friends, can help you cope with PsA.
Medical management is only one part of treating psoriatic arthritis (PsA). Research confirms that the understanding and empathy people with PsA receive from talking to others with the same condition helps them deal with the emotional impact and feel reassured and more connected. Family members and friends can also be important sources of support, whether as outlets for venting on bad days or for help with errands when pain and fatigue get in the way.
PsA and Depression
A 2014 Rehabilitation Psychology study that followed people with inflammatory arthritis found having more support – whether from family and friends or from formal support groups – was associated with less depression. The link was strongest in those whose disease was most disabling. This association works in the opposite direction, as well. Research has found that for people with inflammatory arthritis, having low levels of social support is connected to greater pain and more functional problems.
What Support Does
Engaging with supportive people helps improve your outlook and coping skills, something research has linked to less pain and fatigue in inflammatory arthritis, says Anna Chisholm, PhD, a lecturer in health psychology at the University of Liverpool in the UK. Chisholm’s research has identified social support as an important, and often unmet, need for people with PsA.
“Finding the right support can help people recognize their patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that might be helping or hindering them from coping with the condition or the distress associated with it,” she says.
Start with Your Doctor and Close Circle
It may help to bring a family member or close friend who may not understand your disease to appointments so your doctor can explain psoriatic arthritis. Once they understand that it’s a serious condition that can at times be disabling, they may want to be more supportive.
If your doctor is part of large practice, the organization may offer its own support resources, which could include groups led by other patients or health professionals. Otherwise he or she can help you identify other organizations that provide these services.
Find Local Support
Attending an Arthritis Foundation event, such as Walk to Cure Arthritis is another way to meet others with your condition and learn more about PsA. Want to connect online? Check out the Live Yes Arthritis Network. Visit arthritis.org for more information about the Foundation’s in-person and online resources.
What to Look for In a Support Group
- Focus on PsA or inflammatory arthritis.
- Have an atmosphere in which you feel supported, safe and comfortable.
- Have active members who’ve been taking part for a while, so you know you’re joining a stable group.
- Also have newbies, so you get a range of opinions and perspectives.
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