For someone with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, life is not at all easy. With symptoms that are erratic, flare-ups and remissions, and the ambiguity of what the today and the next will bring, it is not uncommon to feel frustrated, depressed, and angry. It is also not uncommon to mourn and miss the life you once had before lupus. When these feelings come in, therapy and other approaches are necessary to help keep lupus individual surviving and thriving. Because once these destructive feelings become longstanding, the matter becomes more serious and may develop into clinical depression.
Dealing with distress is difficult. By its very nature, distress is “great pain, acute suffering and extreme misfortune,” said Casey Radle, LPC.
A person is considered clinically depressed when he is constantly irritable, has low energy, and always sad and crying for more than several weeks already. These psychological and physical symptoms may also be present:
- Always feeling hopeless
- Sleeping too much or too little
- An increase or decrease in appetite
- Feeling guilty or remorseful
- Feeling worthless and insecure
- Difficulty focusing and making wise decisions
- No longer enjoys the usual things he used to do
- Decreased sexual interest and performance
- Repeated suicidal thoughts
Clinical depression may be a result of lupus itself, the medications used by the individual, or even other factors in his life, which may not be associated with lupus. People who suffer from chronic autoimmune conditions often have this kind of depression. At times, it may not be identified in those with lupus simply because clinical depression symptoms and lupus symptoms can be very much the same. For instance, decreased energy and difficulty sleeping are common symptoms of lupus as well.
According to Deborah Serani, PsyD, “Statements such as“You’re just too thin-skinned” or “Why do you let every little thing bother you?” shame a person with depression.”
Chronic Illness And Clinical Depression
Several factors lead to clinical depression in individuals who are suffering from lupus and other chronic conditions, the most common of which is emotional instability and stress from the complications of the illness. Additionally, certain medications for lupus, like corticosteroids, can also cause clinical depression. Ultimately, a lupus flare can evoke clinical depression symptoms, because the individual will feel very ill and also because they feel that throughout their life, they will never be lupus-free. Below are other important facts about chronic illness and clinical depression.
- About 60% of those with chronic illness also have clinical depression.
- Prednisone, a typical medicine for lupus, has been reported to cause clinical depression.
- The depression may be a result of the mental and emotional stress of the individual’s life with a chronic illness.
- Clinical depression causes increasing anxiety, which may lead to an increase in physical symptoms, such as stomachaches and headaches.
What You Can Do
Therapy. For someone suffering from a longstanding disease such as lupus and other autoimmune conditions, it is best to go through psychotherapy. Along with the proper intake and dosage of specific medications, psychotherapy tremendously helps alleviate clinical depression. Many of these individuals will need persuasion, as they will feel hesitant to go through it, but don’t be. Learning how to manage your depression will help you understand and accept your chronic illness, your emotions, and your relationships with family, friends, and significant others.
More importantly, cognitive behavioral therapy – a type of psychotherapy – is a very effective way of helping you cope with your lupus and the accompanying physical and psychological symptoms.
Medications. Taking antidepressants upon doctor’s orders is also an effective treatment for clinical depression, especially if done in conjunction with therapy. For some depressive patients who have a low tolerance for prescription drugs, their progress can be seen in a matter of weeks from when they started taking them.
Pain Relief. When pain is a persistent complaint of an individual with lupus or any chronic illness, he will most likely develop clinical depression. Aside from therapy and medication, healthcare professionals often suggest alternative ways to reduce pain. Tai Chi, Yoga, meditation, chiropractic manipulation, and acupuncture are some of the most common recommendations. Moreover, some find relief in herbal supplements. Physicians suggest, though, that one should inform his or rheumatologist before using these options.
Simon Rego, PsyD said “It seems obvious that experiencing a depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, would be required for someone to be diagnosed.”
Improvement Of Sleep Patterns. Sleep too much or too little causes many health conditions, which include clinical depression. Sleep is vital in improving one’s mental and physical being, so one should practice a good sleep schedule. Get approximately eight hours of sleep daily. If you have increased energy throughout the day, go brisk walking late in the afternoon so you’ll get tired then be able to sleep earlier. You must also avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. Lastly, make sure that your bedroom is comfortable, the bed with a good mattress on, and the appropriate lighting.
Accept Yourself. You can’t feel bad for yourself, as it was never your intention to have lupus or develop a debilitating depression. Be responsible for taking care of yourself and focus on your healing and recovery. Clinical depression does not develop in a day, and overcoming it is a slow but sure process if you only commit to doing what you can to live contently.