According to new research published in the International Journal of Rheumatic Disease, mood disorders are more common in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). To reach this conclusion, data was used from patients with RA enrolled in either the Siriraj Rheumatoid Arthritis Registry or the Thai Army Rheumatoid Arthritis Cohort.
Wanruchada Katchamart, M.D. from Mahidol University in Bangkok and colleagues sought to assess the prevalence of depression, anxiety, along with factors associated with them in participants enrolled in the studies. Participants included 464 patients with a median age of 59 years, a disease median duration of 9.9 years, 85 percent of which were female.
Researchers found that 12.5 percent of patients had depression and 14.5 percent had anxiety, based on the Thai version of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. The global health score had a negative association with depression while functional disability and married status were significantly associated with an increased risk for anxiety. Disease duration that is less than 10 years and global health score were associated with a decreased risk for developing anxiety.
“Mental health status, especially mood disturbances, should be addressed in routine practice to improve quality of life in RA,” said Katchamart.
Feeling Down or Depressed?
While it does make sense that those who live with a chronic illness or disability may occasionally feel down or depressed, studies such as this help physicians understand the link between neuropsychiatric symptoms and rheumatoid arthritis.
A previous study published in Autoimmunity Reviews concluded that not only can RA affect the joints and tendons as well as other organs, but it can also have some effect on the central nervous system, spine, and brain. This may be the reason for the link between mood disorders and RA.
“Neuropsychiatric manifestations especially mood disorders and headache are frequently observed in RA,” Dr. Andrei Joaquim from the Department of Neurology at State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in São Paolo, Brazil said. “It is of paramount importance for neurologists and rheumatologists to understand the nuances of neurological symptoms in RA patients for a proper diagnosis and an adequate treatment.”
Researchers have found that neurological manifestations of RA could include, but are not limited to, nerve pain, brain fog, headaches, cognitive impairment, depression, anxiety, and even seizures. Some studies have also shown links between autism spectrum disorders and RA. Others have investigated the prevalence of bipolar disorder with the disease.
In many cases, it is unclear whether the disease is actually causing neuropsychiatric manifestations or whether a sedentary lifestyle or medications taken are a factor. It is also unclear whether patients would have these neuropsychiatric or mood disorders even without a diagnosis of RA.
With so many unanswered questions surrounding mood disorders and rheumatoid arthritis, it is clear that many studies are still needed. However, the current research may help physicians with mood disorder diagnoses in patients with RA. Early diagnosis is essential when controlling symptoms of many disorders, so studies such as these are crucial for health care professionals to lower their patient’s risk factors.