Help Lifting Lupus Fog and Dealing with Depression

Have you wondered if “lupus fog” is real? Dr. Beverly Johnson, MD, MS discussed how to deal with “lupus fog” and depression in an in-person seminar Dec. 16. If you could not attend, you can still benefit by reading through our summary below and Dr. Johnson’s slide presentation. And if you were there, read on for key points.

Lifting Lupus Fog

“Lupus fog” is real, according to Dr. Johnson, and describes memory problems reported to affect from 21% to 80% of lupus patients. Symptoms include:

  • difficulty remembering things
  • problems making decisions
  • difficulty finding words
  • personality changes

According to Dr. Johnson, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms you should talk to your doctor. Your doctor can do tests and check your medication so see if your memory problems may be side effects. And you can take some steps to help when you get forgetful:

  • make lists of things you need to do
  • keep a calendar of events and appointments
  • ask family members and friends to help remind you of things

The good news with memory problems in lupus is that they come and go and don’t get progressively worse.

Dealing with Depression

Dr. Johnson also suggests you talk with your doctor if you are feeling unusually down. Your doctor can help determine if you are feeling depressed due to the impact of lupus on your life or if it is a side effect of your medications. Signs of depression include:

  • feeling sad or down for two weeks or more
  • poor sleep
  • feeling hopeless
  • loss of interest in doing normal activities
  • weight loss or weight gain
  • feeling tired and lacking energy

If you are experiencing these symptoms don’t be afraid or embarrassed to get help. Depression can be treated. Start by talking with your doctor. He or she may recommend counseling with a mental health provider and medications to treat depression. To avoid depression before it sets in, you should try to keep your lupus under control by taking your medication and visiting your rheumatologist for regular checkups. You should also try to eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep, and decrease stress. Joining a support group so you know you are not alone is another way to help.

Stay Positive

And remember there is real reason to hope. There is a great deal of research going on to find ways to improve lupus treatment and reduce its effects. And the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation will not stop until there is “Life Without Lupus®."