Depression and RA – It’s worth a read!

SEVEN out of 10 people with rheumatoid arthritis avoid parties because they are in too much pain, research has shown.

And two-thirds decline friends’ dinner invitations due to their condition, the poll on behalf of drugs firm Roche found.

One in three said the illness made them feel depressed and lonely.

Around 690,000 Brits suffer RA and half of affected adults stop working within a decade of diagnosis.

It is an incurable condition in which the body attacks itself – particularly the joints, meaning symptoms are much worse in winter.

Jo Lloyd Baker, 42, who lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, knows first-hand how challenging RA can be at this time of year.

She was first diagnosed in May 2008 when her children Henry and Elouise were only one and three years old respectively.

The reality of the physical limitation of RA was brought home to her during a cold snap shortly after her diagnosis.

She said: “I was in the car with the kids and my daughter was excited by the prospect of snow and asked me to help her make a snowman.

“With silent tears rolling down my cheeks, I suddenly realised that she may have well have asked me to climb Everest.

“I couldn’t imagine a time when I would have the energy or agility to build a snowman.”

Research has not established a clear link between joint pain and weather but many people with RA find their symptoms get worse when it is damp.

Jo said: “My survival strategy for the winter involves lots of early planning, online shopping and building downtime into your schedule.

“The kids still need to be outside at this time of year and rather than mention that I am having a bad day I will just suggest we do some
arts and crafts or my husband, Ewan, will take the kids out to burn off some energy.”

Aside from the physical restrictions, RA can also take a significant emotional toll and Jo can identify with the survey’s findings of a link between RA and depression.

Jo said: “I gave up my high powered city job to have the children and my experience with RA has prompted me to start training as a counselor.

“An RA diagnosis is devastating and while I welcomed the relief from the physical symptoms, I was shocked with how little emotional support was available.”

Jo turned to the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society – using their “online forum almost every day for reassurance and support”.

NRSA boss Ailsa Bosworth added: “The survey brings into focus the many challenges that people with RA can face during the winter period and beyond.

“The joint damage in RA often begins early in the disease, so it is critical to treat as early as possible and maintain treatment to reduce symptoms and stop irreversible damage before it occurs.

“With the right management there is no reason for 2012 not to be a happy new year for people with RA.”