(BeWellBuzz) Limiting the activities of over 21 million adults, Arthritis is the largest cause of disability for senior citizens in the United States (Source: CDC Arthritis Program). Arthritis is also responsible for creating several kinds of mental problems.
Until recently, most health care providers related arthritis with depression; and along with providing care and treatment for the arthritis, they looked out for signs of depression amongst their arthritis patients. However, apart from depression, arthritis has now been found to affect the patients by causing anxiety, a fact that has been largely ignored in arthritis treatment.
Anxiety : A Condition Often Ignored!
Everybody, at some time or the other, has suffered from anxiety. It may have been before an examination, job interview, or even waiting to get a blood test. In general, any kid of unease, worry, or even fear is a manifestation of anxiety. In the extreme cases, anxiety can lead to panic attacks, phobias and post traumatic stress disorder.
Research Shows A Link Between Arthritis and Anxiety
The main reason for the onset of anxiety amongst arthritic people is the loss of the ability to function normally. Even basic tasks such as walking climbing a set of stairs can beyond a person suffering from arthritis. Anxiety can affect a person in other facets of life such as his or her job, relationships and daily activities. The pain may be so intense that they may not be able to continue work.
For older people, in today’s job market, there are very few opportunities out there for someone suffering from arthritis. The resultant stress and worry can be seen as anxiety.
Anxiety and Pain
One of the main physical effects of arthritis on the sufferer is pain. Not just normal levels of pain, but pain beyond our wildest nightmares. In such a case, where the act of simply moving ones fingers can result in bolts of lightning shooting up ones arm, it is only natural that people would fear every living moment and fall prey to depression and anxiety.
Physical Effects Of Anxiety
Anxiety has been proven to have adverse physical effects like heart palpitations, muscle weakness, tension, fatigue, and head and stomach aches. The body’s own defenses will move to face the threat and will command an increase in blood flow, heart rate, and perspiration. The external signs of anxiety include pallor, sweating and maybe even trembling.
Why was Anxiety due to arthritis ignored?
This is a difficult question to answer because the medical professionals are very well aware of the link between arthritis and depression. We may say that since on the scale of severity depression is the most serious problems caused by arthritis, anxiety was just overlooked.
The studies conducted on the mental health of patients suffering from arthritis showed that nearly one third of patients suffer from some form of either depression or anxiety, out of that third two thirds suffer from anxiety. These studies have been repeated globally, and the results have been more or less the same. Also, nearly all of the patients canvassed, who suffered from depression also suffered from anxiety. However, the patients were only being treated for depression.
Thankfully, there are well-established protocols in dealing with anxiety and the doctors have both medicinal and psychological remedies at their disposal. For treating anxiety, different types of psychological treatments are preferred along with the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (with just about 50% success rate.)
On the other hand, medical providers may use applied relaxation techniques to help the person learn how to relax his muscles rapidly. Medication is another route, which may be used and there are various options that are available for both short term and long term treatment of anxiety.
Anxiety treatment for arthritis patients
Most anxiety treatments, while good for arthritis sufferers, do require some tweaking in order to be effective. Since the patient has real reasons for his aliment, it is necessary not just to attack the anxiety but to go after the real cause, which is the arthritis. Similarly, the patients have to realize that it is not possible to just tough it out they must seek professional help.
Recognizing the cause of anxiety is the first step to recovery. The care provider should endeavor to go after the disease and seek a quick solution to the problem. When suffering with arthritis, the patient should make an effort to stay mobile, and they should not let the disease rule and ruin their lives!