It doesn’t take a genius to know physical pain impacts the mind and emotions. Gout sufferers know too well that gout always brings pain. Most bounce back after an occasional flare up. The mental game of gout starts when gout episodes become frequent and prolonged. Over time, depression can develop from internal and external problems caused by unmanaged and recurring gout.
Sections in this post:
- Is There A Link To Gout And Depression?
- Depression When Gout Hurts Quality of Life
- What Are The Signs and Signals of Depression?
- Poor Coping Mechanisms Become Bad Habits
- Methods and Strategies To Fight Depression
Is There A Link To Gout And Depression?
There are formal studies that have concluded gout is a possible predictor of depression.
An Asian 2015 study analyzed patient data during an 10-year span (2000-2010). It compared 34,050 gout patients and 68,100 non-gout patients. The data showed patients with gout had an 18% higher chance of depression than non-gout patients. Additionally, the study found patients without gout medication had a much greater risk of depressive disorders versus patients with appropriate medication.
In 2017, a meta-analysis targeted seven studies which included 411,745 patient cases. This extensive study showed patients with recurring gout are 19% more prone to experience depression.
A larger meta-analysis from 2020 supported the association of gout with depression and anxiety. It analyzed 20 research studies which included other factors on mental health. Considering different patient pre-existing conditions, researchers found 17%-29% patients with gout experienced some level of depression at least once.
Patients experiencing frequent gout attacks or attacks in multiple joints are likely to experience depressive symptoms, even when using allopurinol.– 2016 UK Study – Gout characteristics associate with depression…
In more practical sense, anyone who has experienced a sprain, tear or break to a lower limb, will go through some mental stress. Gout may not disable you for months, like being in a cast, but the conditions during the first few days are certainly similar; pain and discomfort. It is no surprise that a major foot or leg injury can lead to frustration and depression. Gout is no different, but can even be worse. Why? Chronic or recurring gout can strike every few months and linger for weeks.
To find out why and how beer ignites your gout, read this: Brewer’s Yeast Produces Beer And Uric Acid
Depression When Gout Hurts Quality of Life
Frequent gout flares can negatively impact the quality of life. Depression can sneak into the psyche when the pressures of life become overwhelming. Here are three major areas where recurring gout can make you vulnerable to depression.
Physical Limitations & Chronic Pain
Excruciating pain will disrupt anyone’s mindset unless they have acquired an abnormally high tolerance. Once the pain response overloads the mind, it starts a domino effect of emotional and behavioral overreactions.
Gout sufferers know acute pain prevents even the slightest movement and can last for days. To be physically limited and bedridden by tremendous pain causes frustration. Naturally, mood worsens when the mind fills up with negative thoughts.
Most people will feel like themselves soon after an occasional gout attack. However, mental health gets tested every time gout occurs and becomes chronic. Chronic gout is chronic pain. It’s not uncommon for the mental immune system to weaken from recurring pain.
Depression develops if certain adverse behaviors become more evident from each recurring gout attack. In this case, some common signals of depression are mood swings, helplessness, anger, poor sleep, and anxiety.
A gout flare can stop you from going to favorite activities, social events, and family gatherings. It’s natural to get occasionally disappointed by missing a couple of occasions, especially the major ones.
Issues may arise when lingering gout symptoms last for weeks. Consequently, routine and fun activities are missed. This loss of enjoyment or escape can affect a person’s mental and emotional state. Feelings of missing out and being confined can add to anxiety.
Fun activities release chemicals dopamine and serotonin; neurotransmitters in the brain that maintain good mood. A person can start feeling depressed when deprived of activities that relieve stress and release those natural feel-good chemicals.
A person needs to replace the lost stress-relieving activity. If not, psychological and physiological imbalance occurs. Similar to a sports injury, a new coping mechanism is fostered to help settle the mind and nerves. Here, the new coping mechanism may or may not be a healthy choice.
A more troubling sign is when a person no longer has gout, but willingly turns down social invitations or stops doing favorite activities. This happens because enthusiasm and motivation decreases after lengthy periods of inactivity . If this continues, be aware of depression signs such as self-doubt, self-isolation, forgetfulness, laziness, and changes in appetite.
Professional and Financial Toll
Money problems contribute to mental stress. Work, debt and depression make a notoriously tangled web. Do you really need a research study to prove this?
Uncontrolled gout can force someone to miss work for days and even weeks. For many, less hours means less money. When paycheck amounts continue to shrink, the burden from lack of funds will weigh heavily on anyone.
Even when gout sufferers can hobble into the office, it can have negative effects. Work performance drastically goes down for employees with chronic pain. Frustration builds when mistakes are made from poor concentration. Also, the pressure to make up lost time, and the fear of job security are additional stressors.
Unexpected gout strikes can cause you to miss important work functions like client meetings, major conferences, and corporate events. After a while, poor job performance combined with the inability to earn, can take a toll on self-confidence. Lost self-confidence lowers the mental defenses that block the jabs of depression.
Similar to family, a sense of guilt and discontent comes from repeatedly letting down a boss or anyone depending on you. When recurring gout continues to muck up work and finances, people can fall into a depressed state. From this situation, signs of depression are more incidences of insecurity, impatience, poor focus, blame, and negative talk.
What Are The Signs and Signals of Depression?
Gout causes stress from physical pain, social limitations and work pressures. It’s only human to feel down and overwhelmed when things seem chaotic. Many find their own ways to get back into the groove.
However, when each “down time” lasts longer and occurs more frequently, recognizing these signals may help stop a full-blown depression.
12 Emotional Signals of Depression:
- Frequent mood swings
- Defensiveness, Irritability
- Loss of motivation/interest in hobbies
- Anxiety, paranoia
- Insecurity, nervousness
- Dwelling on mistakes; guilt, blame
- Apathy, lack of enthusiasm
- Worthlessness, helplessness
Poor Coping Mechanisms Become Bad Habits
Coping mechanisms are the reactions people choose to deal with stress, pain and difficult emotions. Unfortunately, the tendency is to gravitate towards negative and unhealthy coping responses. These are some examples of poor coping mechanisms to avoid:
- Illicit Drug use
- Excessive drinking alcohol
- Excessive smoking tobacco
- Frequent emotional outbursts
- Offensive language, yelling
- Biting fingernails, scratching
- Becoming violent
- Misuse of prescription medicine
- Avoiding friends and family
- Extreme or poor diet change
Routinely, the new and unhealthy coping mechanism becomes a bad habit. The worse choice for gout sufferers are illicit drugs, poor diet, and alcohol. Each create a nasty cycle of gout and health complications.
Methods and Strategies To Fight Depression
There are ways to keep depression out of your head. There are psychological techniques and physical strategies. Learning some practical coping skills will help lower stress and defend against depression.
Let’s keep it real here. During a full scale gout attack, not many people are able to think happy thoughts, nor put on happy face! When the excruciating pain becomes tolerable, then some of these methods can have better effects.
How To Help Yourself
Self-diagnosis – Acceptance
Take the time to do a self-diagnosis on your physical and mental condition. Have you accepted recurring gout as a major factor in your declining quality of life? The earlier a problem or circumstance is accepted, the sooner you can get out of your own way to get better.
Learn The Facts
Educate yourself about depression from genuine and trustworthy sources. Individuals can feel lost and helpless when unaware or misinformed about their condition. Peace of mind comes by understanding true causes and knowing suitable treatments.
Improve Eating Habits
Recurring gout is a prime indicator that your health and diet need improvement. Changes in appetite, like binge eating, is a coping mechanism for depression. This is a vicious bi-directional combination for all gout sufferers, where one condition causes the other. Repeat cycle: bad diet, gout, depression, bad diet…
If you record everything you have eaten for a month, you will notice how much crap you eat. Start to replace or avoid one unhealthy food at a time and see your uric acid levels and weight go down.
To learn an easy way to track your food intake, read: The Most Helpful Thing Most Chronic Gout Sufferers Never Use: Food Tracker
Practice Basic Relaxation Techniques
Slow, deep and steady breathing lowers the heart rate and calms the mind. The simple fact that more oxygen enters in your system alleviates some tension. Learn simple meditation techniques to clear your mind for 5-20 minutes a day. That’s few less minutes of being in a poor mental state or reaching your tipping point.
Remind yourself to be grateful for what you do have, and that your undesirable conditions are temporary. If you are too cool to meditiate, you can achieve the same process by writing about it. Maintain motivation by listing the things still going right; your strengths, past successes, and long term goals.
Get Regular Sleep
Many studies have proven sleep deprivation impairs normal body and cognitive functions. The right amount of hours and when you sleep, helps regulate moods and support good mental health. Ideally, it is suggested to routinely sleep for 7-8 hours and to go to bed at the same time..
Let The Sun Shine In
Exposure to sunlight improves mental health and mood. Direct and indirect sunlight also influences serotonin production and stimulates vitamin D synthesis. So, open those curtains and blinds, to brighten up your room and attitude.
Creative and Uplifting Diversions
You don’t need to be an artist to find a way to express your creativity. Whether it’s art, writing, or music, creative thoughts curve negative ones. Watching, listening and reading anything funny or inspiring can keep the mood positive.
External and Social Support
Get In Touch With Your People
Sometimes people are too proud to talk about gout, less likely, depression. Their initial thoughts are to handle it on their own and to not burden others. A talk with a spouse, family member, or close friend, can give you the social support to stay in good spirits.
Depression can make you feel alone, so it’s important to stay connected with friends and family. As mentioned earlier, no social exposure and activity increases the risk of depression. Gout may keep you physically away, but you can still stay connected to keep your spirits up. Whether it is a video call or regular voice call, connect with a friend.
Checking your ego is part of accepting your current conditions. There are people you know that will help (without a fuss) when asked. Whether it’s running an errand or getting food, any help will relieve some stress and anxiety.
Be aware that family and friends may not be professionals and may not know exactly how to help. It’s best to not be an an assh*le to anyone trying to support you.
Get Professional Counseling
When you eventually get over gout, but still feel out of it, it’s okay to find professional help for depression. Many “tough guys” don’t go for gout treatment because they believe it is a sign of weakness or they are still in denial. The same mentality goes for anyone experiencing depression.
Professionals with mental health training are psychologists, therapists, social workers, life coaches, and various counselors. Also, the human resources department at your job can provide assistance or referrals. Professionals may know a local support group, where you can hear how others have learned to manage their depression.
A counseling or therapy session is about discussing problems candidly. A therapist helps simplify your issues and develop coping skills. Sometimes a few sessions are all that is needed.
A professional like a therapist can dive deeper into relaxation methods than what you learned on your own. A wide range of Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques can improve a person’s perspective and outlook on troubling matters.
If the depression is considered moderate, psychotherapy alone may be enough to curve depression before prescribing any medication.
Prescribed antidepressants can improve mood by changing brain chemistry. They assist in activating serotonin and dopamine, which enhance feelings of well-being.
There are 28 classes of antidepressants approved by the FDA. Therefore, it is important to have an open rapport with your therapist. In doing so, the best suitable medication and dosage can be prescribed.
Side effects like headaches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are prominent, but decrease over time. Ironically, many withdrawal symptoms are similar to depression symptoms like mood swings, loss of appetite, irritability, poor sleep, and aggressiveness.
Alcohol and illicit drugs interfere with antidepressants. Alcohol a known depressant impairs cognative abilities when combined with depression medications. Many street drugs can randomly alter effects of antidepressants by disrupting serotonin and dopamine activity, which can randomly alter moods.
Furthermore, corticosteroids, medication often prescribed to treat inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis and gout can cause psychiatric side effects. Research has suggested the overuse of corticosteroids lower serotonin levels. Examples of corticosteroids are prednisone, methylprednisolone, and cortisone.
Depression can unnoticeably develop in gout sufferers over some time. Your mental fortitude wears down after each painful gout flare. Gout is not as traumatic as a permanent physical injury, but each episode brings pain and frustration. Who is thrilled about getting injured anyway?
Thoughts, emotions, and behavior start to change when any injury or illness interferes with the quality of life. Gout is no different. If not managed properly, recurring gout disrupts social life and complicates finances. Self-esteem drops from discouraging events that continue to happen socially and professionally. This is when your mental defenses are vulnerable to depression.
By the way, it’s great that you might be fortunate to have plenty of paid sick days to use for gout. But wouldn’t you rather burn those days to go snowboarding, ride the motorcycle, hit the beach, golf, or catch a day game?
It is necessary to recognize the signs of depression. Once you genuinely accept it, you can get out of you own way and seek help. Just like battling gout, you will be self-motivated to learn what works or doesn’t work for you.
Overall well being is maintaining strong physical and mental health. You lower your risk of depression by becoming GOUTPROOF!
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- Psychological Issue Related To Injury In Athletes And The Team Physician – American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, 2006.
- Comorbidities Frequent in Gout Patients – MedPage Today 2014
- The physical, psychological and social impact of long bone fractures on adults: A Review – PubMed, 2019.
- The Mental Side of Recovery – Harvard Medical School, 2019.
- Gout and sexual function – PubMed, 2019.
- Depression Medicines – FDA, 2019.
- State-of-the-Art: Inflammatory and Metabolic Markers in Mood Disorders – PubMed, 2020.