Living with a chronic condition like ankylosing spondylitis (AS) can take an emotional toll. The condition is often progressive and can cause significant disability and chronic pain, impacting a person’s life and activities. For now, there is no cure, although treatment can help manage the symptoms. In some cases, the emotional strain of AS may lead to mood disorders, like depression or anxiety.
When dealing with a chronic disease like AS, it’s important to find support for both your physical and emotional needs. Support can come from friends and family, from online or offline organizations, from support groups, or from professional sources, like therapists or counselors. Some people use a combination of these to get the support and encouragement they need.
Spondylitis Association of America
The Spondylitis Association of America is a non-profit organization in the United States with a mission of “being a leader in the quest to cure ankylosing spondylitis and related diseases and to empower those affected to live their lives to the fullest.” They provide funds for research, engage in advocacy work, and offer educational resources. April is national Spondylitis Awareness Month, and events are planned throughout the month to increase awareness of the condition and its impact. You can find more information at https://www.spondylitis.org.
The Arthritis Foundation offers information and support, participates in advocacy, and funds scientific research into arthritis. Their mission is to “boldly pursuing a cure for America’s #1 cause of disability while championing the fight against arthritis with life-changing resources, science, advocacy and community connections.” While not specific to AS, AS is covered under the Arthritis Foundation’s mission. You can learn more about the organization at https://www.arthritis.org/.
Finding a support group locally
In addition to the national organizations, which may have local chapters or events in your area, look to local hospitals or community centers. If there’s not a support group in your area, consider online support communities. Online communities offer a great way to connect with others like you and provide flexibility and availability when you need it.
Finding professional help
Everyone needs help sometimes and finding a therapist or counselor can provide you with support and tools to cope with stress. It’s important to find the right match. Finding someone you feel comfortable with and who you trust will improve the effectiveness of your time with them. Ask for referrals from your friends, family, or your doctor.
Written by: Emily Downward | Last reviewed: February 2019