Rheumatoid Arthritis And Mental Health

Rheumatoid Arthritis And Mental Health

In this article I would like to take things to a more serious level, I would like to talk about Rheumatoid Arthritis and mental health. Rheumatoid arthritis and depression is something I know very well, as I have experienced it firsthand. I was however not aware of what it was until later in life. The same goes for Rheumatoid Arthritis and anxiety. This is a very personal subject to me but I hope that my experience might assist someone else going through the same thing.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Depression – The Bond Is There

For any one suffering from chronic illness you know that the battle is real. For most parts you do try to keep a brave face because lets face it, what else is there to do?

Sometimes, however, the struggle is just too hard and slow but steady you might feel yourself, hiding away, in your little, but very safe, cocoon. This is exactly what I used to do and I still do, from time to time.

Rheumatoid Arthritis can actually have an effect your mood and the connection between them is surprisingly strong.

Since R.A. can affect your central nervous system, brain fog, headaches, mood swings, depression and anxiety might be signed; yours faithfully R.A.

Depression is actually very common for people dealing with Rheumatoid Arthritis, up to 40% of patients have been diagnosed or are experiencing symptoms linked with depression caused by R.A.


When I got into my depressive state I would lock myself in my apartment, I did not want to go out with my friends even though we had planned to do something. I would stay at home, sit on my couch, watch movies, basically I would have my life inside four walls. I was constantly tired and never had any energy for anything. I had to force myself out of the doors, force myself to go to the gym, force myself to do anything.

Depression might make you feel hopeless, like you fail everything and like you are not good enough, you just need to remember that this is the illness talking and it is not really you. You can actually blame your depression on your Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is 100% allowed!

Rheumatoid Arthritis And Anxiety – The Toxic Combination

For me both the depression and my anxiety started when I started with Enbrel injections.
This might be strange for some people to understand, but for me, having to take this injection, once a week, felt like I was self harming even though I did not want to. I would take them on a Thursday, on Wednesday I would start thinking about it. I would always take the injection, I would sometimes sit there for minutes, trying to convince myself to do it, I would get physically ill, to the point where I almost threw up.


By the time I was 20 I could barely leave my house for periods at a time. I was in such a bad mental state. I would still go to work, I would constantly push myself, even though my body and mind would say Stop!

I started getting panic attacks. It got to the point where I needed someone to sit by me when I went to bed because I was terrified of the feeling I had, terrified of the physical symptoms my mind was giving my body.

I remember talking to my doctor about this. She ran tests but turns out there was no “physical cause”.
So I went on, living in a fog. I had several panic attacks per day by this stage.

I felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel, there was just an endless tunnel. For about a year, this was my life.

The reason I believe I came out the other end is because I had my family there, every step of the way. I also started reading online about anxiety and depression and I realize that the person I was reading about was myself.

I now know that anxiety is common for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis. A person that might constantly be in pain or causing pain to them self, or realizing the severity of their illness, can cause anxiety. An auto immune disease can mess with your neurological system which can make you more susceptible to this.

If you are experiencing panic attacks, difficulty breathing, hot flashes, cold sweats and a racing heart then you might be experiencing signs of anxiety. I would get blurry vision and I felt like I was on a boat, I would also get very physically sick, I never left the house without a plastic bag as I constantly felt like I was going to throw up, it would sometimes even get to the point where my vision would just go black and I would end up on the floor.

I started getting terrified of social places and having to leave the protection of my house. This is when my depression started.

How To Treat Depression And Anxiety

The very first thing I want you to do is remember that everything you are feeling, everything you are thinking and everything you are going through both mentally and emotionally is completely normal and it is something that can be helped.

If you have a doctor. Talk to your doctor. Explain to them what you are feeling and how.

Get a referral to see a psychologist.

Even if it seems really hard, Do not shut yourself away from everyone and everything. Allow your best friend to be your best friend. Movies on the couch might be just the support you need.

When it comes to anxiety it is important to remember that it is only an emotion. It is a temporary emotion and all you need to do is breathe through it.
I have studied mental illness for 2 years in school and I do have a diploma in psychiatric nursing.

If you do feel anxiety coming on, breathe, focus on breathing, do not allow your mind or your breath to rush away.

You are in control.

However, it is not a fun fight to fight alone. I am sure there is a helpline in your country that you can call if you feel depressed or anxiety coming on. Do not be afraid to use it.

Make sure you talk to your parents or close friends about what you are feeling, and please do not be a shamed to seek out professional help.

I wish I could have had the opportunity to get professional help. So please, accept the help that is available.


Writing this is very hard. Remembering the fear I used to have still scares me. Sometimes I still get panic attacks and I do get depressed. I have learned how to deal with my anxiety and my depression without any medications. I meditate a lot. I try to stay grounded and I try to listen to my body. I try not to let my mind rush, I stop myself and I breath.

Something that helps me a lot is listening to guided meditations on YouTube.
Just search for guided meditation anxiety, guided meditation depression or balance. I am not going to add a video as it is important that you find the one suited for you. The person voice, how and when they speak. Everything will matter. I prefer laying down on my bed when meditating, you need to find your personal preference. Please do try to remember that having depression or anxiety is related to R.A. You are not alone.


Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or comments then please drop them down below and I will get back to you.

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This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. I absolutely love this insightful article because it is full of great information. This is fascinating and intriguing to meYou did an excellent job of providing education and resources; The article was well written and easy to understand.

    I am just getting to know about rheumatoid arthritis and mental  health. depression is real thats more reason why we need to check on our loved ones from time to time

    1. Thank you so much for reading. The two do go hand in hand and it is important to know so. Yes, that is very important as well.

  2. Nice article there and very informative and educative on how to treat  anxiety and depression. 

    i find this post very helpful and am also sure many will find it helpful in how to treat anxiety and depression 

    i like it when people talk from experience because it give reader the picture of how the event or situations is

    following all this steps you list will really help a long way. Thanks for the article 

    1. Thank you for reading. 

  3. Thank you for this very informative post. I can imagine that Rheumatoid Arthritis and many other chronic conditions would bring on depression, as these diseases impact on the quality of one’s life.

    I am glad you wrote this post, as I know a lot of people who suffer from depression, and they all think that they can fight it on their own. If they could just read something like this and see that there is light at the end of the tunnel and they must seek help to get themselves sorted out.

    1. It is very common that they do bring on depression as the pain and the knowledge of it always being there can be very hard to handle at times.
      I would strongly recommend getting help. Something like depression is hard to fight, especially when you are not at full strength.  

  4. This is a great article! Informative and educative with a great expository skill. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of autoimmune arthritis. It is caused when the immune system (the body’s defense system) is not working properly. RA causes pain and swelling in the wrist and small joints of the hand and feet. Having this can easily send you down the lane of depression and anxiety!Though I don’t have but I have “acute Ulcer” that nearly took my life, so I understand how things could go especially when it seems unending. Thus you are saving lives with this article as depression and anxiety can easily catch anyone in pain. Does Rheumatoid arthritis has a clinical cure? Is it expensive?  How readily available is the treatment?

    1. Thank you very much for reading and for commenting. 
      There is no real cure for rheumatoid arthritis, medications can only “hide” the symptoms from the disease. The treatment can be quite expensive, especially when it comes to the more newer forms of treatment, such as the injections. Not everyone can afford or will be able to receive the treatments.

  5. Hello Alexandra,

    Thanks for this enlightening post on rheumatoid arthritis. Living with rheumatoid arthritis can be mentally challenging especially trying to deal with the pain. It’s very necessary for people living with this condition to visit a health practitioner if they begin to have symptoms if depression.

    Thanks for sharing this, keep up the good work.

    kind regards

    1. Thank you for reading and for the comment.

  6. Rheumatoid arthritis is such a a healthy scary condition which anyone would not want to ever experience in life. In poor or bad health conditions like this, it may seem to the patient that all hope is lost but trust me, that isn’t the case. Depression might be there coupled with anxiety but that’s not the end of life. There is always a solution and way forward. 

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and you are so right. It is not the end of your life, you just need the tools to get through the rough part of it.

  7. I commend your  courage. Sharing this story must be hard for you and this shows you have completely mastered your fears. I don’t have R.A but I have also suffered from depression. Depression is really very hard to deal it, it sucks the life out of you and makes it seems the whole world is against you. Finding help wasn’t easy but I have started down the part and though I still get depressed too, I know how to manage it. Your YouTube online meditation advice will also come in handy. Thanks for sharing, you are a strong person.

    1. Thank you for reading and sharing your experience with depression. What you are saying is very accurate. Help can be hard to get but even harder to admit that you need. Youtube meditations have helped me very a lot and I strongly recommend it. 

  8. I suffered depression, anxiety and panic attacks after the loss of my husband I am familiar with that, but as your reader I want to understand what Rheumatoid Arthritis is? Is something you are born with or you can have its later in your life? And yes you are right YouTube has helped many.

    That is where I read my books from and I found my healing and I am happy again, through affirmations and writing, I love reading and writing.  I hope you continue writing and educating people the dangers associated with mental illness.

    1. I am sorry to hear. Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto immune disease that attacks your immune system causing your joints to swell and become very painful. This is something that is hereditary. You either have it from childhood or it will come later in life.

  9. I was born with rheumatoid arthritis and I am 22years of age and I have suffered this problem for so long that it seems that I have lived more than 22 years. My parents dont understand how it feels totally . they call me lazy and now I know from your article that this ailment is mind bending. It makes me lazy to do many things. It feeds on motivation to move and get things done. In the morning I can’t even explain enough how difficult it is to go and brush my teeth or take my bath . and I have been wondering, it’s not all about the pains. Most times the pain is subtle or even just minor discomfort but the feeling that goes with it is terrible and stagnating . thanks for the eye opener 

    1. I can relate to what you are going through. It is however important that you try to find some help. If you are unable to get professional help then try to explain to your parents what is happening in your body and take things day by day. One thing that helped me a lot as well was my animals. Being around animals has a healing power, might be something to try. 

      If you are experiencing pain please view my other articles as food can be of great help to avoid the pain the comes with r.a.

  10. Hi Alexandra,

    I am saddened to learn about your experience. I was too diagnosed with Bipolar mood cum depression due to work stress for the past three years. My psychologist prescribed me with anti-depression medicine to control my mood and depression. I quit my job and start an online business which me freedoms and do the things l like.

    I agreed those having these type of syndrome should see consult your doctor immediately to avoid your situation getting worse and talk to your family and friends for their support.

    Thank you.

    1. I am sorry to hear about your situation but I am happy that you seem to have come out on the other side of things. 

      It is very important to get help, because the deeper the fall the harder to climb back up.
      Thank you for sharing your experience.

  11. It’s a brave effort on your part to expose your feelings about your ordeal.  I have not suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and hope I can avoid that, but do have some personal experience with depression.  Your advice to get help from a psychologist or medical doctor is sound.  You can’t hope for a recovery if you hole up by yourself.  Good luck to you and thanks for your exposition and advice.

    Best regards,


    1. Thank you for reading. 

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