The Need for Psychological Services for Persons with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

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Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic, immune-mediated, multisystem disease. The disease runs a variable course ranging from severely disabling exacerbations to nearly complete symptomatic remissions. As the illness progresses, cutaneous, muscle, and joint involvement may become more severe. Life-threatening sequelae include renal failure, serious central nervous system complications, and massive infections that are sometimes inadvertently facilitated by corticosteroid and/or immunosuppressant pharmacotherapy. Given that the illness is debilitating, unpredictable, and may affect organs necessary for survival, it is not surprising that many persons with SLE experience considerable psychological distress. Those providing psychological services to persons with SLE should have fairly in-depth understanding of the multisystem disease manifestations, as well as the psychosocial challenges associated with trying to cope with this chronic, debilitating, life-threatening disease. The rehabilitation psychologist's role in facilitating individual's optimal community adjustment is discussed.

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