Tag Archive | "exercise"

Depression Busters!

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Unfortunately, depression and rheumatoid arthritis seem to go hand-in-hand. Loss of independence, financial troubles, changing relationships and—of course—pain, are all factors that contribute to our tendency to become depressed. But there is a difference in clinical depression and being in an “inflammation funk”. Read on for tips to make you feel better…

Generally speaking, we Americans are viewed as being fairly happy-go-lucky people (we are also viewed as being fat, vulgar, arrogant and violent…but then, that’s another article). Even Henry Miller—and I don’t think anyone ever accused him of being a Pollyanna—confessed that he sometimes irritated his French companions with his chronic cheerfulness, admitting, “I’m just as retarded as any American.”

With the skyrocketing popularity of Prozac, however, I believe we are showing some cracks in our rugged individualism. True, we don’t make depression a national pastime as they do in Sweden, but in America, I believe that depression is finally coming out of the closet.

So if the average American can confess to being depressed, then we in the arthritic community might as well admit it: depression and rheumatoid arthritis go hand-in-hand. Why? Because we have been slapped down by a disease that robs us of our mobility, our independence, our jobs, our social lives and—to a lesser or greater extent—our dignity. We are financially devastated, frightened about the future, lonely, angry and defenseless against the ultimate betrayal: being attacked by our own bodies.

Most of us could adapt to even these changes within time, though. We can survive death and divorce, eventually. So why is it that 90% of people with RA will experience occasional depression and 40% will be treated for severe depression? The number one reason for depression—and as my father-in-law says, this ain’t rocket science, folks—is pain. Pain—that great malefic god—is constant, relentless, capricious and, worst of all, greedy. Pain doesn’t want to share you with anybody; he wants you all to himself.
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Your Life, After Diagnosis

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by Michael DuVall

A diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis can be devastating, sometimes requiring major changes in lifestyle. But there is life after RA…

I would have rather the doctor told me I had cancer.

For me, rheumatoid arthritis meant my paternal grandmother. As I was growing up, I watched as Grandma slipped from cane to walker to wheelchair and finally, to bed. Towards the end, she couldn’t walk, write, or even brush her own teeth. Few people grieved at her funeral; the people who really cared for Grandma were just relieved that her suffering was over.

I believed RA meant enduring a pointless life filled with pain, devoid of joy, and ending with a eulogy titled: “She’s Better Off”. Now, of course, we know about new medications, exercise, adaptive techniques, rehabilitation—treatment that wasn’t available for my grandmother. I am—and I plan to remain—an active, productive person. But when first diagnosed, I was devastated. My expectations for myself and for those around me were completely skewed and as a result, I made a lot of bad decisions regarding my treatment. With all the benefit of five years of hindsight, here’s what I would suggest to anyone who’s just been diagnosed.
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