16:05 PM

Q&A: Body image concerns in lupus leave patients feeling ‘betrayed,’ ‘out of control’

Healio Rheumatology features a conversation with Priscilla Calvache, LCSW, assistant director for lupus programs and community engagement at HSS, about the impact lupus has on these patients and how rheumatologists can better aid patients with concerns over body image and disease impact.

According to Calvache, “Although lupus is characterized as an invisible disease, it is very common for patients to experience many physical manifestations of lupus, such as facial scarring, rashes, hair loss, weight gain and other symptoms. At any age, changes in one’s appearance may impact a person’s self-image, self-esteem and increase feelings of depression and anxiety.”

She noted, “When working with patients who may be experiencing challenges with their body image due to lupus, it’s important to create an open and safe space for them to share their main concerns. Patients are not often asked about their feelings or challenges in a medical encounter, due to time or other competing concerns. Spending even a few minutes asking patients how their chronic illness or medication plan may be affecting their day-to-day social activities can go a long way.”

Calvache continued, “I have encouraged patients to share how they are coping both physically and emotionally, to educate their health care team about cultural norms, values and health practices, and how they may affect the management of their lupus.”

“I want to remind patients who may not be connected to peer support that they are not alone. There are communities of peer support and support groups available that can help to reduce feelings of isolation, inspire hope and help you work through some of physical symptoms of lupus. You are more than your illness and staying connected, especially through the difficult moments and remaining hopeful, is an important part of your journey,” Calvache advised.

Read the full article at Healio.com/rheumatology.