How You Responded to Your Psoriatic Arthritis Diagnosis
Psoriatic arthritis is a common comorbidity of psoriasis. PsA can lead to permanent damage to bones and joints, especially if untreated. Currently, no diagnostic test for PsA exists. Thankfully, validated screening tools exist to help identify signs and symptoms of the disease.
What comes after a psoriatic arthritis diagnosis?
Everyone remembers the moment they first learned about their psoriatic arthritis. This moment is often heavy with emotion. However, emotions vary greatly from person to person.
To learn more about the feelings you experienced when you learned of your diagnosis, we reached out to our Facebook community and asked you to fill in the blank: “When I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, I felt ________.”
More than 300 members responded. Here is what was shared.
For so many, it was a relief to have a name, a diagnosis, and a clear path toward feeling better. With a diagnosis comes the option of medicine and treatment plans. Plus, it is a relief to know that all of your pain and symptoms were and are real.
“Relieved to have a diagnosis to treat and a reason why things were happening to me.”
“So relieved, I cried, because I knew I could get some relief from the pain.”
It makes sense to feel intense sadness when learning that the life you knew is gone. It is okay to be depressed, and it is normal to grieve the life you had. In fact, you might find it is easier to move forward after you take the time to allow your feelings. For most people who experience depression as a result of a diagnosis, the depression passes as they learn how to handle the new challenges.
“Depressed. It was more work to get emotionally back on track than physically.”
Several members of the community have loved ones living with psoriatic arthritis, so they knew what they would be dealing with. In some ways, it can be harder to find out you have PsA when you already have someone else’s experiences to compare your own to. If you can, try to remember that everyone’s experiences with the disease will be different.
“Disappointed. I knew my mom had had it and all the troubles it brought her. I was wishing it was something else, I guess.”
“Devastated. I had had psoriasis since I was a teen. I watched my older brother lose mobility and his ability to work. I knew what was coming.”
Some of you were surprised since you did not know what the diagnosis meant. Others had heard of psoriatic arthritis but did not believe it could happen to you.
“Surprised. I had never heard of it. Worried because I did not know what it meant.”
“I was shocked. I thought it would never happen to me. Even though I was born with psoriasis, I knew that PsA only happens to 30 percent of people with psoriasis.”
Once some of you knew what your diagnosis was, you became ready to tackle it head-on. Treating your psoriatic arthritis can change how you feel and can also slow the progression of the disease. In other words, it is healthy and helpful to fight back, since your efforts will likely be rewarded.
“Determined. At first, I did not know what it was. I talked to a counselor, and she told me she knew of people who were wheelchair-bound within a couple of years of PsA diagnosis. I became determined right then and there that would NOT be me.”
“Determined to carry on through life.”
Thankful for community
Psoriatic arthritis can be particularly discouraging because the emotional pain that psoriasis can cause is compounded by joint pain and, in some cases, disability. The support of friends and family can make a tremendous difference when you're facing the physical and psychological challenges of psoriatic arthritis. For some people, support groups can offer the same benefits.
Thank you to everyone who shared. We know this is a vulnerable topic, and we appreciate your honesty.
Do you have a sleep disorder (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your PsA?