7 Steps to Stop “RA Guilt”

Do you blame yourself for having rheumatoid arthritis? Feel guilty about burdening your loved ones? Read on for simple ways to ward off those nagging feelings.

Diana Bierman
Reviewed by
Greg Schimizzi, MD
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Put a new spin on your situation. Feel you’re a burden to your loved ones because you need a hand with certain activities you once could manage, such as loading the dishwasher or making the bed? Dr. Lichtenthal recommends looking at it this way: “Sometimes it’s helpful to think about how good it feels to help others in need. By allowing your loved ones to assist you, you’re giving them the opportunity to experience those same feelings.”

Pump up your confidence. “Practice positive thinking, enforce that you can get better and believe in yourself,” says Dr. Anandarajah. One way to do this: Make a list of your most positive traits—your big heart, your perfect driving record, your great skin—and read it every day. It will remind you that you’re still the same person you were before RA.

See a mind-changing expert. If you just can’t shake the guilt, Dr. Anandarajah recommends making an appointment with a therapist who practices cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). A mental health technique used to change thought patterns, CBT has been shown to help alter negative thoughts and improve pain in RA patients, according to a study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. Ask your rheumatologist whether a CBT specialist is right for you.

April 2013