The Connection Between Lupus and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

June 1, 2023

The Connection Between Lupus and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Lupus, a complex autoimmune disease, impacts millions of lives worldwide. Alongside its physical manifestations, emerging research has shed light on the connection between lupus and mental health conditions like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In this article, we explore the relationship between lupus and PTSD, emphasizing the importance of comprehensive care for individuals living with these intersecting challenges.

Understanding Lupus:

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues. It can affect various organs, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, skin rashes, and organ dysfunction. Living with lupus involves navigating a myriad of physical, emotional, and psychological challenges.

Exploring Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):

PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It affects individuals differently but commonly involves symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, heightened anxiety, and emotional distress. PTSD can significantly impact one’s overall well-being and quality of life.

The Intersection: Lupus and PTSD:

Recent studies have highlighted a potential bidirectional relationship between lupus and PTSD, where each condition can influence the other:

a) Lupus as a Traumatic Experience: The chronic nature of lupus, its unpredictable flares, and the physical and emotional toll it takes on individuals can be traumatizing. The burden of managing a chronic illness and coping with its impact can contribute to the development or exacerbation of PTSD symptoms.

b) PTSD Influencing Lupus: PTSD-related stress and trauma may activate the immune system and trigger inflammation, potentially impacting lupus disease activity and symptoms. Heightened stress levels may worsen flares, compromise the immune system, and contribute to overall disease progression.

Shared Factors and Overlapping Symptoms:

Both lupus and PTSD share common risk factors and overlapping symptoms, including:

  • Chronic inflammation and immune dysregulation
  • Fatigue and sleep disturbances
  • Cognitive difficulties and concentration problems
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Increased sensitivity to stress and triggers

Holistic Approach to Care:

Recognizing the connection between lupus and PTSD underscores the importance of a comprehensive and integrated approach to care. Individuals with lupus and PTSD can benefit from:

  • Access to mental health support and therapy to address trauma and PTSD symptoms.
  • Stress management techniques, such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises, and counseling.
  • Collaborative care between healthcare providers to address both physical and psychological aspects of well-being.
  • Building a strong support network of loved ones, lupus support groups, and mental health communities.

Seeking Help and Support:

If you suspect you may be experiencing symptoms of PTSD alongside lupus or if you have a history of trauma, it’s essential to seek professional help. Consult with healthcare providers experienced in treating both conditions to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your unique needs.

The connection between lupus and PTSD reveals the intricate interplay between physical and mental health. Understanding and addressing the impact of trauma on individuals with lupus is crucial for holistic care. By recognizing the connection, advocating for comprehensive support, and fostering open conversations, we can enhance the well-being of individuals navigating both lupus and PTSD, empowering them to lead fulfilling lives.

Remember, seeking help and support is a sign of strength. Reach out to healthcare professionals and support networks to embark on a journey of healing, resilience, and renewed hope. 


The contents of the Lupus LA website, such as text, graphics, images, and other material contained on the Lupus LA website (“content”) are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the LupusLA.org. 

If you are in crisis or you think you may have an emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) or call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is #988. If you are located outside the United States, call your local emergency line immediately. 



More on Lupus and Mental Health:


Lupus Support GroupsLupus LA’s global Virtual Support Groups are here to help you learn more about lupus and how to cope with managing this illness. Being truly supported is a powerful feeling that many people with lupus long to have, and joining a support group can help you enormously in managing this unpredictable chronic illness. Our monthly support group sessions are free and open to the public. Learn more at lupusla.org/supportgroups.

1:1 Patient Support: Did you know that Lupus LA offers 1-on-1 support to lupus patients? Navigating healthcare and social service bureaucracies are not easy tasks – and we’re here to help. Whether you’re a newly diagnosed patient or need assistance navigating resources, our team can help you:

✔️ Find the right doctor (and specialists)
✔️ Get the most from your medical team
✔️ Prepare for doctor visits and navigate resources
✔️ Understand patient rights and responsibilities
✔️ And More…

If you or someone you care about has lupus – you are not alone. Reach out to our virtual care coordinator at info@lupusla.org.