8 Negative Thoughts About Psoriatic Arthritis and How to Overcome Them
If you have psoriatic arthritis, your head can become flooded with worries and fear. Learn how to turn these around and start thinking more positively.
Psoriatic arthritis can cause joint pain, stiffness, and overall fatigue that may affect the quality of your day-to-day life. Along with these physical symptoms, questions, doubts, and fears can become pervasive in people who have the condition.
The source of negative thinking can stem from the condition itself. “Psoriasis can be disfiguring for the skin, [and] then when you add in the arthritis, people can also have problems moving around,” explains rheumatologist William Harvey, MD, clinical director of the division of rheumatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.
Of course, not everyone will feel the same way about their psoriatic arthritis — or have the same negative thoughts. But learning how to cope with any negative thoughts you do experience could improve your quality of life and, at the same time, help you manage psoriatic arthritis more effectively.
Here are some common negative thoughts people with psoriatic arthritis may experience, plus tips for overcoming them:
1: “Psoriatic arthritis will eventually cause me to become disabled.”
“At first a lot of my negative thoughts revolved around accepting my situation,” recalls blogger, yoga instructor, and wellness coach Julie Croner, 37, of Pittsburgh. “Not being able to see the finish line drove me nuts.”
Although this is common, researching and learning about psoriatic arthritis and your treatment options could give you hope. While there’s no cure for psoriatic arthritis, “I try to reassure patients that we have a wide variety of treatments available to them,” Dr. Harvey says. And in the past five years, many new treatments have also been approved, he adds. Some of these newer therapies may work differently than other medications you’ve tried before. “So even if you’ve struggled in the past to find a treatment that works, there are more options now, and more reason for hope.”
Additionally, Harvey suggests that people consider complementary approaches such as yoga, tai chi, and acupuncture. These will not cure psoriatic arthritis but could improve your quality of life, he explains. In fact, Cerrone successfully manages her psoriatic arthritis with diet, supplements, yoga, meditation, and medication.
2: “I’ll no longer be able to do the activities I enjoy.”
With psoriatic arthritis, it’s true that there may be some activities you can’t do when you want to do them. The fix? Focus on the things you can do, learn new skills and hobbies, and reach out to your support system.
“When those thoughts arise, I go outside and work in my flower beds,” says Vickie Lynn Wilkerson, 53, of Shreveport, Louisiana, who’s had psoriatic arthritis for eight years and psoriasis for 10 years. “I also listen to music that is uplifting. If my arthritis is really bad or I can’t function that day, I have a great support system of people I can talk to.”
3: “I feel so alone. No one understands what I’m going through.”
Although feelings of loneliness are common, reaching out to others in your community and online will give you the opportunity to connect, share experiences and insight, and build a supportive network. Not sure where to start? “We send people to the National Psoriasis Foundation, the Arthritis Foundation, CreakyJoints, and to patient support groups,” Harvey says.
“Even in the hardest moments, I’m never alone in the fight,” adds Melissa Withem-Voss, who was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in 1996 at age 22. “I still have bad days, but I reach out to my ‘psofamily.’”
4: “It’ll be hard to find a job once people find out I have psoriatic arthritis.”
The Arthritis Foundation notes that the Americans With Disabilities Act protects your right to ask employers for reasonable accommodations so you can work. Reach out to your doctor and your support network to find creative solutions to the barriers that might make work more difficult for you. And know that your diagnosis is confidential unless you choose to share it.
5: “This flare will never go away.”
Many people with psoriatic arthritis worry that painful flares will never end. One way to counter this thought is to realize that there’s a lot you do have control over, including when to contact your doctor to discuss adjusting your treatment plan or whether to try meditation, yoga, exercise, or other lifestyle approaches to feel better.
Try focusing on what you can do to improve your quality of life during a flare, Harvey suggests. He also stresses that with the current medications and complementary therapies available, you have more options than ever before for coping with a flare.
6: “My treatment is going to bankrupt us.”
While your healthcare coverage might dictate the kinds of treatment options available to you, Harvey stresses that you should talk to your medical team about any costs such as deductibles, copays, and premiums that may be burdening you. There are also ways to work with the pharmaceutical companies to get coupons, discount cards, and other kinds of cost reductions.
7: “I don’t want to be a burden.”
Harvey says that people with psoriatic arthritis are sometimes so concerned about becoming a burden to their families and friends, or even to their doctors, that they might not ask for the help they need.
But it’s important to let your doctor know if you’re having a hard time with negative thoughts, sadness, hopelessness, or practical barriers such as the cost of care. “Talking through these issues is all part of total care,” Harvey says.
8: “I can’t be a good spouse.”
Psoriatic arthritis can put a strain on families, says Andrea Sandoz, MD, a psychiatrist and clinical assistant professor at University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York. Family members can become distressed by their loved one’s pain and sadness over psoriatic arthritis while also trying to cope with changing roles and abilities.
“I told my husband I would give him a divorce because I didn’t know how this disease would progress,” Wilkerson recalls. Her husband didn’t agree that divorce was an option, for which she is thankful. Marriage and family therapy may help if you or your family members are feeling the strain of your diagnosis.