Let's face it, RA is a tough disease. Dealing with the emotions that can arise from having RA can be just as important as managing the physical symptoms. In difficult times, having a reliable support system can make all the difference.
Friends and family members are good candidates for a support system, but remember that they may not fully understand what you’re going through. Be patient with them, and help them understand. Be open and honest, and teach them all you can about RA.
Your healthcare team can also be a good source of support. It's their responsibility to know the effects that RA can have on you. They can answer your questions, offer advice, and can simply listen when you need to vent.
The RA community is another place to find support. Since more than a million Americans have RA and millions more have a chronic illness, patient communities have become the cornerstone of information and support. Education initiatives, programs, and events help raise money for RA research and the awareness of the disease itself.
Support groups, too, can be an excellent source of encouragement and peace of mind. You may find it easier and more helpful to connect with others who have RA and therefore understand what you're going through. Fellow group members can also offer insight and information about how they cope with the disease...and remind you that you are not alone in your fight against RA.
To find a support group near you, ask your healthcare provider if he or she can recommend one. You can also turn to the Internet. Many organizations, such as the Arthritis Foundation, offer information about patient communities and support on their Websites.
If you are still feeling a bit uneasy about discussing how you're feeling, you can always turn to a therapist or other mental health professional. You can ask your rheumatologist, family doctor or a trusted friend for recommendations.
Feelings of stress, frustration, anger, sadness or uncertainty about the future are all normal responses to the life changes that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can bring. Dealing with these emotions can be just as critical as managing the physical symptoms of RA. For difficult times, having a support system can make all the difference.
Friends and family members can be a good source of support, especially if you help them understand what you're going through. Be open and honest, and teach them all you can about RA. Visit the Emotional Health section for printable Discussion Guides that provide good starting points for talking about RA with loved ones and coworkers.
Finding support in the RA community
About 1.3 million Americans have RA. Millions of others have some type of arthritis. Even more people have a chronic illness. With numbers like these, it's no wonder that patient communities have become a cornerstone of coping with difficult circumstances. The RA community can provide a great deal of support through education initiatives, programs and events to raise money and awareness.
In addition, you can find support groups, which can also be a good source of encouragement and peace of mind. People who have RA may be able to relate better to what you’re going through. You have an outlet for your thoughts and feelings, and fellow group members can provide new insight and tips on coping with the condition. More important, it may simply help to know that you’re not alone.
How to find a support group:
- Ask your rheumatologist or other healthcare professional to recommend a support group or to point you in the right direction for finding one.
- Turn to the Internet. Many organizations have Web sites that offer information about support groups, patient communities and patient advocacy. For information about RA, the Arthritis Foundation Web site is an excellent place to start.
- Reach out to other people you know who have RA or a similar condition.
- Check the local newspaper for support group listings.
Still feeling a bit uneasy about discussing how you’re feeling with others? For a more private, one-on-one conversation, try talking to a therapist or other mental health professional. You can ask your rheumatologist, family doctor or a trusted friend for recommendations.
For more information and support…
The following is a list of organizations that can provide more information about RA, mental health and where to find support groups:
- Arthritis Foundation®
- American College of Rheumatology (ACR)
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
- American Psychiatric Association
- American Psychological Association
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Glossary Of Terms
An individual that you choose to be part of your healthcare team to serve as a liaison between you and the doctor. More...
A person who is trained in mental health and treatment through therapy of emotional disorders. More...
A doctor who specializes in diseases that affect the joints. More...