Psychological Aspects of Lupus
People with lupus often experience psychological and emotional effects, such as grief, depression, and anger. Examples of potential psychological symptoms include:
- depression: lowered self-esteem; negative feelings about body; feelings of decreased confidence and self-worth; feelings of sadness, hopelessness and helplessness; crying
- difficulty in completing self-care activities, caring for children, maintaining a household, and other activities of daily living
- inability to maintain full- or part-time employment
- decreased social activities
- lack of energy or ambition
- impaired concentration
- suicidal thoughts
These effects can be related to outward changes, such as skin alterations caused by the disease. They can also be related to concerns about the future, and about other aspects of the disease and its treatment. It is important for health professionals to be alert to potential psychological repercussions and to assist in alleviating them.
For the patient with lupus, the emotional aspects of dealing with a chronic disease can be overwhelming. They can also make the patient feel isolated from friends, family, and coworkers. Grief, depression, and anger are common reactions of patients with lupus.
Those with lupus and their families deal with the disease in strikingly different ways. Managing the ups and downs of the disease may put strains on relationships and marriages. Younger patients may fail to assert their independence or develop a life away from home if they feel they cannot cope with their disease on their own. Family members are often confused and frightened over the changes they see. They need guidance on and constructive suggestions for helping the patient.
Children of people with lupus, particularly those too young to really understand the disease, may need special help in coping with their parent’s illness. It is in these areas that the patient, family, and support systems need to be assessed, encouraged, and guided so that they work together as a team. By allowing the patient and her or his family the time and freedom to move through different emotional phases without criticism and unrealistic expectations, you will facilitate acceptance of the disease.