Ankylosing spondylitis can have a deeper effect than just the physical.

People with AS have a higher risk of developing anxiety and depression than the general population.

For the 300,000 Americans diagnosed with AS, managing symptoms of the disease — especially pain — can have an effect on their quality of life.

If you are living with AS, it is important to make mental health a priority. There is a lot you can do to address your mental health in order to allay psychological impacts.

If you have chronic ankylosing spondylitis pain, you are not alone. Learn more about AS, mental health and how to find support.

A 2020 study of 161 people diagnosed with AS found that participants reported feeling high levels of pain that impaired their daily functioning more than 50 percent of the time.

Survey participants reported extremely severe levels of psychological distress due to the pain.

If you’re managing depression along with ankylosing spondylitis, you’re not alone, according to a 2019 study. Out of 245 patients, 44, or 18 percent, were found to have possible depression.

The researchers found that depression was linked to life factors like employment and income, but that it was not related to disease.

A 2019 Korean study indicated that those living with ankylosing spondylitis had a risk 2.21 times higher than the general population of developing symptoms of depression.

It could be related to AS worsening symptoms, which can lead to mental health and well-being problems.

It can be hard to do everyday activities, like driving or working, if you have severe symptoms of AS.

There are many things you can do to manage mental health effects of AS. There are a few options to consider.

Make lifestyle changes that fit your needs

If you have a lot of symptoms, you may want to make lifestyle changes to better fit them. It is important to be comfortable in the places you spend the most time.

If AS is affecting your work, you may want to speak to your manager about creating a more comfortable work environment.

Being comfortable in your surroundings and taking steps to avoid pain are both important to managing your mental health and overall quality of life.

It is important to tell your friends, family, and loved ones how you are feeling. It would be better if you could socialize in a way that made sense for your current symptoms or pain level.

Find a treatment plan that works for you

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment.

If you are experiencing feelings of depression and anxiety as a result of AS pain, you should speak with your doctor about your concerns to find treatment options.

For some, traditional talk therapy and medication may be useful, while others might want to use alternative methods to manage their mental health impacts.

Seek support

If you are experiencing depression or anxiety, you may want to seek professional support with the help of a psychologist, social worker, or counselor, in addition to your primary care physician or rheumatologist.

Like medical doctors, psychologists and social workers can work with certain types of patients. Look for people who say they specialize in chronic pain or chronic illness.

When you call to set up an appointment, you can ask the person about their experience working with chronic pain or AS.

Meeting with a psychiatrist can be helpful if you decide to try a medication.

You can also seek out support groups for AS, which you can find online or through local hospitals. Building connections with others navigating the same experiences can help you cope and, in turn, positively impact your mental health.

Prioritize self-care

Taking care of yourself inside and out is of paramount importance.

If you feel like you are not doing enough, try to do something you enjoy, whether that is drawing, listening to music, or reading a book outside.

It is self-care to set boundaries. Communication with friends, family, and coworkers can help them understand your condition.

Self-care can help you manage stress, increase your energy, and also recognize patterns in your emotions, which can be helpful in understanding depression or anxiety.

The impacts of ankylosing spondylitis are more than just physical pain for most people. Being diagnosed with AS can make you more vulnerable to developing feelings of anxiety or depression, but there is a solution.

There are many things you can do to help your mental health.

If you are concerned about depression or anxiety as a result of AS, you should contact your doctor to discuss your needs and develop a treatment plan that is right for you.