Rheumatoid arthritis and depression linked: Depression may worsen the arthritis pain

By: Emily Lunardo | Arthritis | Monday, December 19, 2016 - 05:30 AM

Rheumatoid arthritis and depression linkedDepression has been found to worsen pain experienced in rheumatoid arthritis. Rates of depression among rheumatoid arthritis patients is estimated between 13 to 42 percent which reveals how closely associated the two conditions really are. As to why depression is so prevalent in arthritis is that dealing with a chronic condition is stressful which can take a toll on someone’s mental health.

Depression can stem from the acknowledgement that a person with arthritis is unable to perform common functions which they did before or form living in pain. Furthermore patients may feel anxious that they now need to rely on others for support along with worrying about changes that are occurring with their bodies.

How depression worsens arthritis pain

A study looked at how depression can worsen pain in arthritis. The researchers looked at 56 patients with rheumatoid arthritis who completed questionnaires to assess depression and anxiety levels. The researchers followed up with the participants after a year and found a strong association between how patients felt emotionally and the amount of pain they experienced. Essentially, the lower the mood the more pain they felt.

The researchers suggested that depression and anxiety worsened pain sensation but also depression can contribute to how closely patients adhere to taking their medications and partaking in other healthy behaviors.

Overall, the researchers concluded that living with rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of depression and that depression is treatable so by targeting depression in rheumatoid arthritis patients can begin to feel better and improve treatment.

Related: Is rheumatoid arthritis considered a disability?

Role of inflammation in both diseases

Inflammation is present in both depression and rheumatoid arthritis. Patti Katz studies chronic disease in adults and she explained, “There is evidence that depression is an inflammatory disease, and there is also evidence that people with high levels of certain inflammatory biomarkers in their system are more likely to develop depression. Some of those markers are the same ones that are elevated in rheumatoid arthritis.”

“There’s been less concern about the actual inflammatory component of depression in rheumatoid arthritis simply because there’s more focus on reducing symptoms, like pain, that have a more obvious relationship with depression. But if inflammation is, indeed, a component of the depression some patients feel, treating the inflammatory process probably helps,” Katz concluded.

Related: Rheumatoid arthritis remedies: Diet and exercise


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