Fatigue makes daily life more challenging. Moreover, a person coping with rheumatoid arthritis or other chronic illness is more prone to stress, anxiety, and depression. Mood changes and instability can contribute to poor sleep quality.

People with RA are often encouraged to participate in therapy or support groups. Addressing everyday challenges as well as underlying mood problems may help improve a person’s sense of well-being and sleep quality, thereby helping alleviate fatigue.

    Therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy identifies unhealthy thought patterns that influence mood and behavior. The therapist helps the patient reframe these faulty thoughts to work toward healthier, more productive patterns of thinking. For example, in one study, 13 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy helped people with rheumatoid arthritis reduce fatigue and depression, improve their ability to cope, and sleep better.1

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    Join a support group. In-person support groups or online forums can be helpful and encouraging to those experiencing pain or fatigue. Sharing personal experiences and listening to other’s experiences and advice can have a therapeutic effect and can alleviate anxiety and isolation. Patients can also ask their health care team to recommend support groups in their local community.

Even if therapy and support groups do not appear to be improving fatigue levels, they can be beneficial. It is often comforting to be around other people who acknowledge and understand RA symptoms.

References:

  1. Minnock P, McKee G, Bresnihan B, FitzGerald O, Veale D. How much is Fatigue Explained by Standard Clinical Characteristics of Disease Activity in Patients with Inflammatory Arthritis: A Longitudinal Study. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2014 Jun 25. doi: 10.1002/acr.22387. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 24966144.
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