Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

How Did You React When You Were Diagnosed With RA?

Receiving an RA diagnosis can lead to a variety of conflicting and powerful emotions. Sometimes, these can be fear of the future, anger at a new reality, or relief from a long, mysterious journey. No matter what an individual’s reaction is to a new diagnosis though, all experiences are valid. No two people will experience this life-changing event in the same way, and that is completely alright. To highlight these varying and complex emotions, we asked members in our community to share with us how they felt when they were first diagnosed. The responses we received were so varied and incredible, we wanted to share some of these emotions and experiences with you.

Fear and Disbelief

The first reaction many of our community members had was one of shock, denial, disbelief, and anger. For many, it was fear; fear of the unknown, fear of the unexpected, and fear of what lies ahead in the future.

  • “Was shocked and dismayed, didn’t think it would be me”
  • “A little panicked and afraid, as I had a neighbor in a wheelchair. Fortunately, I had a great doctor. and so far, I am getting along ok. 76 and counting, feel pretty good most days!”
  • “I was terrified!”
  • “Horrified… I fell apart because I already knew my life as I knew it was over”
  • “I was in so much shock… I cried, I didn’t know how to accept it or explain it to my family”
  • “I was at a loss. No one I knew had it and I did not know anything about it. I began my voyage that took me in directions not intended. I was 23 when diagnosed; straight out of college”

Anger and Sadness

In addition to being scared or in shock, many of our community members reported feelings of anger, frustration, deep sadness, or even depression.

  • “I went and sat beside a river in the woods and cried for a couple of hours. I had an idea of what I was in for. I had a relative with R.A. It was devastating.”
  • “Shocked, angry and sad for what was going to happen to my body”
  • “I cried and couldn’t even say it without crying for a while. I knew what it meant from watching my aunt who had it”
  • “I was depressed and angry. I was diagnosed just months after I had retired and had plans that I knew I would have to give up”
  • “I sat in my car in the parking lot and cried for a good 20 minutes before going to a friend’s house crying all the way”
  • “Depressed, knew that my life was going to not be the same”
  • “I admit that I was very angry”


On the other end of the spectrum, many of our community members felt a sense of relief when receiving their diagnosis. They felt comforted to have a name to put on their pain and an opportunity to start appropriate treatment. For many, this diagnosis was a long time coming.

  • “Relieved I wasn’t crazy for feeling so bad for so long”
  • “I am probably one of the few who was happy. Not that I had RA, but that I had a diagnosis that confirmed something was wrong with me and I wasn’t making it up!!”
  • “Glad for the diagnosis but then denial set in. I learned as much about it as I could and slowly acceptance followed”
  • “First, relieved to have an answer. The whole “it’s probably nothing” business was not going to cut it. Afterward, overwhelmed”
  • “Just glad to finally get a confirmed diagnosis so a decision about treatment could get started”
  • “I was relieved that I wasn’t insane. My pain and weakness had a name”

It’s clear to see that a diagnosis of RA can bring on many different emotions regarding the life-changing journey that’s in store. Although an RA diagnosis can completely change your world, there are individuals in our community, and beyond, who are here for you and want to help you make sense of what comes next. You are not alone. Let us know what emotions you experienced when you received your RA diagnosis and how you’re coping now.


  • 2mra
    1 year ago

    Well, I was happy to be diagnosed with something but disappointed that I had another disease. I didn’t think much about it. I just thought that I’d have a sore joint here and there like older people with Arthritis do. Wrong!

    We didn’t have home computers then, my Doc didn’t tell me much about it. He just gave me prescriptions for the Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis. I went along home with my baby and made supper for my Hubby.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing, @2mra! I am sorry you were diagnosed with another disease but I hope the medications help?

    All the best, Monica

  • DeGee
    1 year ago

    First, I was relieved that I didn’t have ALS (my mom died from it). Then angry I was forced to retire. Then depressed because I felt worthless and the professional dreams I had were gone. Worthless because I’m no longer dependable since I never know when there will be a bad day. Fear that I won’t be able to hold a grandchild someday.
    Day to day.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    1 year ago

    Hey @DeGee! Thanks for sharing! I am sorry to hear about your mother but I am glad you don’t have ALS.

    I totally hear you on the feels of anger, grief and worthlessness. I thought you might like this article I wrote recently:

    I touch on the five levels of grief and your comment reminded me of it. I have been diagnosed for eight years and even though I have come to terms (to some degree) with my illness I still find I am very hard on myself.

    Please know you can always come here if you want to talk. We’re here to support you. Thinking of you, Monica

  • DeGee
    1 year ago

    Thank you!
    I’ve always been one to fight what is happening just because “that’s not how it’s supposed to be”.
    I need to accept this and be thankful that it isn’t worse because it could be.
    I’m glad this site is here.

  • Sneed
    1 year ago

    I too felt relief but why is this not a possible answer to the poll?

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    1 year ago

    You bring up a good point, @sneed! I also felt relieved. It was not until later down the line I felt depressed, shocked, scared and angry.

    Thanks! ~Monica

  • V Morrison
    2 years ago

    The diagnosis really took me by surprise, but I also was relieved to know what was wrong with me. After being seen by 7 different specialist finally getting a diagnosis was the beginning of new questions like “What is RA?”, which I knew nothing about. Seven years later I could write a book about my experiences with RA and how it changed my life.

  • SydneyH
    2 years ago

    I was relieved that I finally knew what was wrong with me, combined with a little bit of terror and determination to do whatever it took.

    I did an enormous amount of research on RA in those first few weeks. I spent almost every spare minute researching RA and RA treatments. By the time I went to my first rheumatologist appointment, I had a pretty good idea of what treatment she would start me on.

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    2 years ago

    I was shocked, i had no idea. I have what? He was very straight forward and laid out a treatment plan that made sense.

    My wife and I went to the car had a good cry and went to work. A new DX and something new to worry about. It blew me away.

  • Poll