Anxiety and Depression
Depression and anxiety occur at increased rates among people living with lupus.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
- Lack of interest in activities formerly enjoyed
- Sadness and crying
- Feelings of guilt or regret
- Lowered self-esteem or feelings of worthlessness
- Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
If you are having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Chat options are also available on their website. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. All calls are confidential. These services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Symptoms of anxiety include:
- Excessive worrying
- Feeling like you are always on edge or uneasy
- Irritability and agitation
- Frequent stomach aches, diarrhea, or nausea
- Sleep disturbance
Heightened anxiety can result in a panic attack. Panic attacks often come on suddenly and involve an overwhelming and debilitating sensation of fear. In these moments, it is important to remember that the physical sensations you are experiencing do not reflect any actual threat. You have gone into "fight or flight" mode, which floods your body with stress hormones.
Signs you may be having a panic attack include:
- Racing heart
- Shallow breathing
- Chest and throat tightness
PTSD and Psychosis
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, can develop after experiencing a traumatic event. For many, being diagnosed with lupus and being hospitalized can be traumatic experiences.
Symptoms of PTSD include:
- Flashbacks or nightmares of the traumatic event
- Intense distress when exposed to a reminder of the traumatic event
- Persistent avoidance of places, objects, people associated with traumatic event
If someone hears, sees, or believes something that isn't real, this refers to psychosis. Psychosis can be a symptom of severe lupus, or can occur due to mental illnesses, extreme stress, severe illness, or substance use. Early signs of psychosis include trouble thinking clearly, unease around others, or believing unusual things no matter what others say. Psychosis is rare, but treatment is available. Treatment will likely include a series of doctor visits and may involve medications.
Seeing a Doctor for Mental Health & Mood
To diagnose you with depression, PTSD, or other psychiatric conditions, your doctor may ask you a series of questions to determine how often you've been feeling sad or anxious. They may also want to know about whether you've experienced changes in appetite or if you've had trouble sleeping. If you are experiencing anxiety, depression, or PTSD you may be prescribed medication, psychotherapy, or referred to a medical specialist like a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist. Evaluation for lupus affecting the central nervous system may include blood tests, brain imaging or referral to a neurologist.