So Exhausted — Managing Fatigue with PsA

Fatigue can often be one of the most frustrating and confusing phenomenon we experience. Getting a full night’s rest, only to wake up tired and energetically drained, or hitting an unexplained “brick wall” in the middle of the day that decreases concentration and work output can present as such a challenge, with potentially no real solution. These feelings can come to anyone, regardless of their health history, however, chronic fatigue is often a very common symptom of many chronic conditions. This feeling of weariness, being weighted down, or just exhausted can present at any time, and can be physical, mental, or even emotional in nature.

Chronic fatigue can be a daily occurrence for those with PsA, and can be an incredible challenge, sometimes even surpassing the primary symptoms of the condition such as joint pain or stiffness. Many studies have shown that nearly 80% of individuals with PsA have reported having moderate-to-severe or just severe fatigue on a daily basis. Everyone’s experience with fatigue, or fatigue with a chronic condition can be completely unique, however, there are some potential tips that may help manage some of these feelings. While some of them may seem over-simplified, or too easy to work, attempting to utilize some of these tips and tricks may help much more than expected!

Find the underlying cause of fatigue

This may prove to be the biggest challenge of all, as finding what exactly is causing your fatigue can be a tricky puzzle, with potentially no “right” answer. Fatigue can come from many sources, including emotional triggers, such as depression and anxiety, dietary issues, or even environmental causes such as an uncomfortable mattress leading to sleep disturbances. Keeping a record of your fatigue and when it rises or falls can open a window into what is causing your specific symptoms. Knowing (or having an educated guess) on what is causing your fatigue can lead you to the right course of treatment. For example, if your medication is making you drowsy around lunchtime, maybe it’s time to talk to your healthcare team about trying something new. Or if you notice you tend to have an incredible slump in energy after a large, sugar-heavy meal, maybe it’s time to cut back on sweeteners in your food. While this may seem like a perfect solution, it isn’t always possible to pinpoint what exactly is causing your fatigue. If you can’t find the cause, there is no need to fret! There are other ways to keep fighting!

Get moving

This can be another tricky fix, as you need to discuss with your doctor about what kinds of exercises you can realistically do. While increasing physical activity has been shown to decrease fatigue, it isn’t right for everyone, and needs to be started gradually. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if increasing your activity level could be what you need to kick your fatigue out!

Adjust your diet

Eating a balanced, nutritious diet can do wonders for your body and fatigue levels. Furthermore, even if you are eating a balanced diet, there may be something in the foods you’re eating that your body does not appreciate. Check in with your healthcare provider or a nutritionist to see if there is a food additive that could be contributing to your weariness, such as gluten, sugar, or dairy, to name a potential few.

Seek help for additional conditions

Our fatigue levels can often be exacerbated by other conditions lurking in our body that we may or may not know about. These conditions include diabetes, viral infections, uncontrolled pain, sleep conditions, depression or anxiety. Many of these conditions are treatable, and with the right medications or healthcare team, they can be managed in a way that decreases your overall level of stress and fatigue. Talk to your healthcare provider about any other potential symptoms you may be having, to see if they recommend additional treatment.

Many of these tips may seem too simple for dealing with such a complex and frustrating problem. They may not be a complete solution for you, and that’s okay. Keep practicing stress reduction techniques, as well as keeping open lines of communication between yourself and your family, friends, co-workers, and healthcare team so that those around you can understand (to the best of their ability) what you need, while you continue to tackle this complex issue.

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