Lupus (SLE) patients suffer from mood disorders, anxiety and depression. Although lupus is categorized by many physical symptoms it can affect mental health as well. Lupus can be a complicating illness which is caused by an overactive immune system. With medication symptoms can be managed but often the side effects of medications can contribute to other health consequences including those related to mental health.
Aside from medication complications lupus can have direct effects on mental health including cognitive dysfunction, depression and anxiety and even personality changes. A patient with lupus may become forgetful, “fuzzy-headed,” angry, irritable and even experience depression and anxiety symptoms in relation to medications or as stand-alone conditions.
Mood disorders frequent in patients with SLE
Studies have shown the relationship between mood disorders and lupus and have noted that mood disorders are the second most frequent event experienced by lupus patients. One study looked at 1,827 patients with lupus who were assessed and followed-up after 14 years.
During the study 232 patients experienced 256 mood disorders and 98 of them could be attributed to lupus. Major depressive-like episodes were the most common followed by other mood disorders with depressive features.
After 10 years estimated cumulative incidences of experiencing mood disorders or mood disorders attributed to lupus were 17.7 percent and 7.9 percent. Patients with other neuropsychological experiences had higher risks of developing mood disorders and Asians were seen to have the lowest risk.
Previous study states that patients with SLE suffer from anxiety and depression
Previous research has also found that a relationship between patients with SLE and anxiety and depression. The findings came from Denmark where researchers found not only do lupus patients suffer from anxiety and depression but it also lowers their quality of life as well.
The researchers uncovered that 92.8 percent of patients diagnosed with lupus had an element of confirmed neuropsychiatric involvement – depression, anxiety or mild cognitive deficits.
Along with neuropsychiatric conditions which could negatively impact quality of life of lupus patients, the researchers identified other factors as well including:
- Cutaneous (skin) conditions as Raynaud’s phenomenon (identified in 37.5% of the patients)
- Serositis (identified in 8.9% of the patients)
- Hyperhomocysteinemia (a blood disorder that is a risk factor for coronary artery disease) (identified in 39.3% of the patients)
- Antiphospholipid antibodies (a disorder of coagulation) (identified in 66.1% of the patients)
Lead researcher of the study, Dr Paola Tomietto, said, “People with SLE experience a range of both psychological and physical symptoms which can negatively impact their quality of life. This study shows that the psychological impact of SLE on quality of life includes elements of anxiety and depression. Thus, clinicians should try to identify and address the presence of mood disorders in their SLE patients in order to improve both their emotional quality of life but and, ultimately, their physical functioning.”
Reduce anxiety and depression from lupus
Anxiety and depression, as shown by research, are common complications and co-existing conditions of lupus as living with the disease can be quite difficulty. It’s important to reduce anxiety and depression when living with lupus as it can contribute to further complications of the disease.
Some means to reduce anxiety and depression from lupus include:
- Talk with your doctor about depression and anxiety with lupus. Educate yourself with the help of your doctor so you can recognize the signs of mood disorders and they can better help you treat them once spotted.
- Learn and begin to accept your diagnose as living in denial can increase anxiety and depression.
- Talk positive to yourself and avoid negative thoughts or speech. Promoting negativity can only worsen mood disorders along with lupus.
- Surround yourself with supportive people.
- Take your diagnosis one day at a time and break down tasks into small and tangible projects which you can achieve instead of taking on too much.
Tips to help your emotional health with lupus
Below are additional tips which you can utilize in order to help your emotional health while living with lupus.
- Educate yourself and others about lupus so you can know what to expect and help those around you better understand the disease and how it affects you
- Practice healthy lifestyle habits like exercising, eating healthy, getting rest and avoiding alcohol or tobacco
- Manage stress which can have a negative toll on your mental health
- Perform activities which you enjoy and that bring you joy and happiness
- Seek support either for lupus or for mood disorders
- Appreciate yourself
- Know your physical limits
With the help of your doctor and your support group you can better help promote mental well-being while living with lupus and reduce your risk of anxiety and depression which does not have to be inevitable.