I’ve got the blues. The winter blues, that is.
Can you say bah humbug? I think for most of us with RA, the cold weather increases our joint pain and decreases our mobility. Combine that with it being dark when I wake up and dark long before I go to bed, it’s a recipe for me wanting to stay in bed for the next several months.
According to a recent article in Arthritis Today on fatigue, “Up to 98 percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) report fatigue, as do 50 percent or more of those with lupus or Sjorgren’s syndrome." There are many causes and consequences of fatigue, but one thing is clear. It is a common symptom in those with many chronic illnesses, including RA.
So for those of us who start out in pain and fatigued before winter even hits, how are we supposed to cope with all of the negative effects that come from several months’ worth of cold, dark, and dreary days?
For me, add Raynaud’s Phenomenon to that – where the fingers, toes, and other extremities change color in the cold and heat and can be incredibly painful – and I’m one very cranky lady. So aside from increased disease activity – at least for me, living in a colder climate – I tend to get a bit depressed.
According to MSNBC, “About 10 percent of people in northern states experience full-blown Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) […] Another 30 percent experience […] a low-grade version of seasonal depression."
I’ve never been diagnosed with SAD, but I am definitely one of those people who gets the winter blues. No doubt about it. For me, it started in early November, as soon as the weather turned cold and the amount of daylight began to wane. And it will probably last until around March, or at least until the sun returns and the snow starts to melt.
The other issue for me with the winter is that I am unsteady on my feet. I’ve been known to trip over any piece of sidewalk that isn’t level. So not only does trudging through the snow bum me out generally, it also makes me increasingly worried about slipping and falling on ice. It has happened to me before, and usually, I always end up falling on my problem hip. Nice how that seems to work, isn’t it?
If you suspect that you might fall victim to the winter blues, or more seriously, full-blown Seasonal Affective Disorder, there are a variety of treatments that can work to help put the spring back in your step, such as anti-depressants, exercise, exposure to light, and getting adequate amounts of rest.
If you aren’t sure whether you are suffering from the winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder, talk to your doctor.
So my friends, there you have it. This winter, stay warm, stay healthy, stay safe, and try not to be too blue.
Published On: December 19, 2011