Ankylosing Spondylitis - Causes, Symptoms, Treatments & More…
What to Do When Ankylosing Spondylitis Gets You Down
Don't Miss This
Sign Up for Our Living with Chronic Pain Newsletter
Thanks for signing up!
Even if ankylosing spondylitis isn’t causing you much physical pain, it still may be affecting your emotional health. On any given day you might feel anger, frustration, or even grief. Or maybe multiple feelings at the same time.
“People are a beehive of emotions,” says Kenneth J. Doka, PhD, a professor of gerontology at the College of New Rochelle in New York and a senior consultant to the Hospice Foundation of America.
This is certainly true of people with a chronic condition such as ankylosing spondylitis. You might feel angry because you can’t do everything you used to do. Or frustrated because people in your life don’t understand what having ankylosing spondylitis really means.
Guilt is another common emotion people with ankylosing spondylitis experience. You may feel guilty for simply having the condition in the first place. Or guilt for being “a burden” or not having the energy to do all the things you “should” do. You may blame yourself for any limitations you may experience, for not being the parent or spouse you feel your family deserves, or for any number of other things that are beyond your control.
Part of the challenge with ankylosing spondylitis is that many people have never heard of the condition or they can’t tell if someone has it, says Hillary Norton, MD, a rheumatologist in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Dr. Norton herself was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis about 10 years ago.
“When ankylosing spondylitis is explained as back pain, that really doesn’t explain everything that goes along with the disease,” she says. “It’s so much more than back pain. Family members might not understand.”
If you find yourself struggling with your emotions, here are some things you can do.
1. See a Mental Health Professional
A therapist, social worker, or other mental health professional can help you find strategies to better handle the emotional challenges of living with ankylosing spondylitis. There are a number of treatment options available, from talk therapy to medications. Your doctor should be able to recommend a counselor or therapist who can help. Difficult emotions are very common in people with chronic conditions.
2. Join a Support Group
If you don’t feel comfortable discussing your emotions with friends and family or you feel like they just don’t understand what you’re going through, finding a group of people who know what it’s like to live with ankylosing spondylitis can be very helpful. Many options are out there, both in-person and online. Sometimes, someone facing similar challenges can be the best source of tips on how to cope. Dr. Doka recalls being at a support group for people with arthritis where one older woman complained that she couldn’t order steak in a restaurant anymore because it was too difficult to cut. “Ask them to cut it in the kitchen,” recommended someone in the support group. Joining a support group can help boost your mood, improve your coping skills, and decrease negative emotions like resentment and hopelessness, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
3. Ask for Help When You Need It
Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to do too much. You may only end up feeling guilty or frustrated if you’re not able to cross everything off your to-do list. This is especially true when your condition flares and you’re feeling pain or fatigue. “We want to feel tough, like we’re battling this disease,” Norton says. “So, asking for help can often feel like a sign of weakness.” Put those thoughts aside and ask for help when you need it.
4. Keep a Gratitude Journal
This idea has spread widely in recent years. It may seem difficult to find things to be positive about when you’re dealing with feelings like anger or frustration. But taking just a few minutes each day to list something you are grateful for — even something small — can lift your mood and make you feel better about your life.
5. Adjust Expectations of Yourself
You don’t need to be perfect. Repeat: You don’t need to be perfect. Strive instead to do the best you can in taking care of yourself — by exercising, eating right, getting enough sleep, and not smoking. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall short now and again. Although you can help manage your pain and inflammation, some things about your condition are beyond your control. “People put a lot of pressure on themselves to identify what caused a flare,” Norton says. “We’re not always going to figure it out.
Video: Causes And Symptoms Of Ankylosing Spondylitis
10 of the Most Important Qualities Women Look for in a Guy
How to Have a Good DJ Party
7 Signs Its Time to See a Dermatologist
El Chapo trial: Mexican presidents accused of taking cartel bribes
Prognosis of Carcinoid Tumours of the Lung
How to Keep in Touch With Family
Party dresses under 100
How to Write for Major Magazines
Designer diwali diyas
A Guide To Younger-Looking Hair
Julep: Nail Colors inspired by Women