About Lupus

Mental Health and Lupus

Mental Health Problems and Lupus
Beverly Johnson, MD - Chief of Rheumatology at Jacobi Medical Center and North Central

Bronx Hospital

People with lupus can experience feelings of depression and a sense of being in a fog. With current treatments and promising research, there is hope for a happier future.

Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad
  • Crying, feeling hopeless
  • Lack of sleep
  • Loss of interest
  • Poor concentration
  • Decreased appetite or weight loss
  • Tired, lacking energy

Coping with Depression

Talk to your doctor if you have these symptoms for more than two weeks. Don’t be embarrassed to tell your doctor!  The doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist or prescribe medication. Some treatments for lupus-related depression include:

  • Talk therapy with a mental health provider
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Medications like Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Cymbalta
  • Join a lupus support group. Click here to learn about support groups offered by the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation.

Dealing with Lupus Fog
According to Dr. Johnson, varying studies have found that 21-80% of people with lupus suffer from “Lupus Fog,” with symptoms that include:

  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Problems making decisions
  • Difficulty finding words
  • Changes in personality

What Should You do About Memory Problems

  • Talk to your doctor
  • Make a list of things you need to get done
  • Keep a calendar of your appointments
  • Ask family or friends to help you remember things

Click here for Dr. Johnson’s full presentation.

This column is not meant to substitute for medical advice from your own healthcare provider – please talk to your doctor about recommendations for preventing lupus complications.  

Beverly Johnson MD, MS is the director of Rheumatology at Jacobi Medical Center and North Central Bronx Hospital. Dr. Johnson is a board certified rheumatologist and internist. She trained in rheumatology at Hospital for Special Surgery and for internal medicine at New York- Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Her undergraduate and medical degrees are both from Brown University, and she has a Masters of epidemiology from Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Johnson previously worked at Urban Health Plan, a federally qualified health center in the south Bronx. Dr. Johnson is bilingual in Spanish and English and is dedicated to providing quality care to underserved communities. She is particularly interested in lupus and is proud to work as a volunteer with the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation to give talks in the community for lupus patients, their families and friends. Dr. Johnson is working to make Jacobi Hospital a center of excellence for lupus care.