Depression, Featured, Main Blog

Dealing With a Lupus Depression: How Do You Cope?

 

Lupus can force you to make uncomfortable adjustments in your life. Change can be difficult, and it’s easy to  understand how that can make you feel down sometimes. How could you not? The holiday season we just experienced – as well as the cold weather and short days of winter – can also amplify any feelings of isolation, loneliness and ultimately depression.  

Introduction

In general, people with chronic illnesses like lupus, are at higher risk for depression.  Studies have shown that as many as 60%* of people with chronic illness can face depression at some point in their lives.  It is very important to recognize these feelings, and if you have sadness or depression that lasts more than a few weeks, we at Kaleidoscope Fighting Lupus encourage you to talk to a trusted healthcare practitioner.

The Five Stages of Grieving

When anyone suffers any kind of a loss, they will inevitably go through the five stages of grieving. Finding out that you have an incurable illness like lupus is certainly a loss. Perhaps you feel that you have lost the vision of the kind of life you expected to have … or hoped you would have. These feelings of loss are valid and must be dealt with before you can move to stage 5, acceptance. Everyone moves through these steps at different paces, and no two people experience grief in the same way.  Some find that the depression stage lasts the longest, and that is why it deserves a great deal of attention!

Here are the Five Stages of Grieving:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression – our focus for this blog article
  5. Acceptance  

Some Warning Signs of Clinical Depression and Where to Get Help

If you are feeling any or all of the following signs, please talk to somebody you love and trust and/or seek medical assistance. You don’t ever have to “go it alone.” There are people out there who care!  

The warning signs of depression that you should not ignore:

  • Feeling empty, hopeless, or helpless and feeling like you can’t work your way through these emotions on your own.
  • Losing interest in the things you used to enjoy or feeling like nothing seems to bring you joy anymore.
  • Feeling like you can’t go on anymore.
  • Feeling like a failure, and that nobody cares about you. 

If you are having suicidal feelings, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at

1-800-273-TALK  (8255)

The task of finding resources can be daunting but there are places on the web where you can go to find the help you need. If you would like help in finding the right caregiver for you here are some useful links.

How do you combat a lupus depression? The B.G.T.Y. Theory.

What is the B.G.T.Y. Theory?  It is quite simple actually … Be Good To Yourself.

  • Surround yourself with supportive people:  If you have great family and friends around you, this can be an important network for anyone with a chronic illness.  If your family or friends are far away or they ‘just don’t understand,” then try to find online or local support groups for other lupus or chronic illness sufferers, like the ones here at Kaleidoscope Fight Lupus!
  • Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle: In spite of the lupus, it is important to continue to be good to yourself, eat right, get enough rest, and exercise regularly.  Again, there are many resources here on the Kaleidoscope Fighting Lupus website to get you started!
  • Just take one day at a time: Why worry about tomorrow when all you can control is what you accomplish today?  It may help calm your overwhelming feelings of worry if you narrow your sights about all you need to do, and just focus on getting through this day.
  • Try to stay active: Even though you have days that you will not feel up to moving around, try to stay active in general. Be engaged in hobbies, clubs, groups, yoga, tai chi or any other mind-body exercises.  This kind of engagement can really lift your spirits and make you feel empowered over your illness.
  • Keep a ‘go to’ list of things that make you feel better:  Whether funny movies, music, or a taking a walk makes you feel good, add it to your list. Keep that list handy for those tougher days and you might even give the list to your caregivers. The mind/body connection is a very important factor in your well-being.
  • Stay informed about lupus: The more you know about your medical options, the more questions you ask of your physician and other medical providers, the more empowered you will feel … and feeling empowered is a great weapon against depression!
  • Watch that negative self-talk: Replace that gloomy voice in your head with a positive one.  We are all guilty at times of being our own worst enemy.  Unfortunately, over time, that negative talk can wreak havoc on our self-esteem.  Be kind to yourself, having faith in the knowledge that you are doing the best that you can on any given day.  Lupus is unpredictable, and if laying low for a while (a day, a week, a month or several) is what your body demands, then that is honoring your body and your well-being. So be kind to yourself!

 

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Author: Karrie Sundbom 

Revised January 2019 by Liz Heintz

*All images unless otherwise noted are property of and were created by Kaleidoscope Fighting Lupus. To use one of these images, please contact us at info@kflupus.org for written permission; image credit and link-back must be given to Kaleidoscope Fighting Lupus. **All resources provided by us are for informational purposes only and should be used as a guide or for supplemental information, not to replace the advice of a medical professional. The personal views do not necessarily encompass the views of the organization, but the information has been vetted as a relevant resource. We encourage you to be your strongest advocate and always contact your medical provider with any specific questions or concerns.

 

Elizabeth Heintz

Liz Heintz is a technical and creative writer who received her BA in Communications, Advocacy, and Relational Communications from Marylhurst University in Lake Oswego, Oregon. She most recently worked for several years in the healthcare industry. A native of San Francisco, California, Liz now calls the beautiful Pacific Northwest home.