• Fri. Aug 5th, 2022

How to find the right one

ByJulie J. Helfer

May 23, 2022

Psoriatic arthritis (PS) support groups can help a person living with PsA feel understood. Support groups can help people develop coping strategies and improve their quality of life.

PSA is a condition that affects the joints. About 30% of people with psoriasis have PSA, but sometimes it can develop without a person showing skin symptoms.

In people with PsA, the joints become inflamed and tender, which is known as a flare-up. Breakouts can happen occasionally or frequently, and sometimes they can last a long time.

Living with PSA can be difficult. PSA support groups can connect people with others who understand how they are feeling. This article describes the role of PSA support groups and explains how to find the best one and how to get the most out of it.

Most people with PsA develop psoriasis first, but PsA can also develop on its own. On average, people with both conditions develop PsA 7–10 years after presenting with psoriasis. PSA usually affects adults, but it can also appear in children.

A 2015 study investigating the quality of life of people living with PSA revealed that it can be difficult for many people with the condition to work full time without mitigation. The results also showed that people with psoriasis were more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety than the general population. They may also have trouble sleeping and live with higher stress levels.

Discover the link between psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

According to a 2018 study, other terms for support groups include:

  • self-help groups
  • peer-led support groups
  • self-help groups
  • multi-family groups
  • family-led support groups
  • consumer-led support groups

Support groups can take place online or in person, and facilitators can be healthcare professionals or peers. These groups aim to provide:

  • hope and optimism for the future
  • emotional support
  • group member support
  • knowledge of people with lived experience, especially in health issues
  • anonymity and 24-hour support, if groups are online

Most national health charities offer support groups, and there are regional support groups in some areas.

People who are interested in asking questions and reading about other people’s experiences can join online health forums. However, those who find visiting these forums stresses them out or lowers their mood should avoid this option.

Getting together with a group on a regular basis is beneficial for some people because they can interact socially with other people who understand their condition. In particular, young people living with PSA may find it helpful to meet other young people who are going through the same problems.

The best support groups are probably those that offer the following:

  • regular meetings
  • members who feel empowered to take care of their health using the knowledge they acquire
  • a focus on finding solutions rather than problems or complaints
  • different learning points, skills, tools, or perspectives that can help members better manage their condition
  • a group leader who is contactable, helpful and good at encouraging discussion and managing conflict

A person may find it helpful to prepare a list of questions to ask a group leader before joining the group. Possible questions to ask include:

  • How big is the group and does it take new members?
  • What criteria must a person meet to attend?
  • What is the time, frequency, structure and duration of meetings?
  • What are the facilitator’s qualifications?
  • How does the facilitator protect member confidentiality?
  • What are examples of meeting topics?
  • Is the group faith-based or non-religious?

A person can take certain steps to get the most out of a support group for PsA. These include:

  • check that the group meets their needs before joining
  • attend meetings regularly
  • contribute to meetings, although just observing is acceptable during the first two sessions
  • be respectful to other members of the group
  • try different bands to find the best one for their situation
  • let the leader know if a person or situation makes them uncomfortable

The Arthritis Foundation offers Live Yes! Connect Groups, which connect people with arthritis. The organization organizes events, including the Walk for Arthritis, and connects people through in-person and online peer groups.

The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) can match people with peers who have similar experiences. It operates in seven regions, organizing conferences and fundraising events.

Additionally, it has a webpage called Our Spot that caters to the specific needs of people under 18 and their family members or caregivers. The NPF also offers Kopa, where people living with PsA can access online forums.

A person can also find support online through social media groups. However, they must ensure that the rules of the group are in place and that the group is well moderated.

A person living with PSA may find support groups helpful and improve the way they cope with their condition. By connecting with others, a person can learn more about PsA and the services available to them. This knowledge can give a person more control over their situation and help them develop self-management skills.

Living with PSA can feel isolating for some people. Building a support network that includes others in the same situation can reduce these feelings of isolation and promote positivity.

PA is a lifelong disease that can affect people’s quality of life. Finding a social support group can allow a person to manage their condition more effectively and allow them to feel understood.

The Arthritis Foundation and NPF can connect a person with others with PsA, in person or online.

Caregivers and family members may also find support groups helpful. Caring for someone with a chronic illness can be challenging, and groups can allow people to share information and experiences and support each other.