Depression Common in RA

According to a large, combined analysis of previous studies, depression is common among people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These results were published in Rheumatology.

Symptoms of depression include persistent sadness, loss of pleasure in usual activities, difficulty concentrating, feelings of guilt or hopelessness, sleep problems, and appetite changes. Major depression can be profoundly disabling. Treatments include antidepressant medications and psychotherapy.

Depression has been reported to be more common among people with certain chronic diseases, and increased awareness of this problem may help patients and physicians recognize and manage the condition.

To assess the frequency of depression among people with RA, researchers collected information about 72 prior studies that included more than 13,000 adults with RA.

  • The prevalence of major depressive disorder was 17%.
  • Using a lower threshold that captures less severe cases, 34%-39% of people had symptoms of depression.

This report confirmed that depression is more common among people with RA than among people in the general population. Depression has been linked with worse RA outcomes, and the researchers note that optimal RA care may include the detection and management of depression.

Reference: Matcham F, Rayner L, Steer S, Hotopf M. The prevalence of depression in rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Rheumatology. Early online publication September 3, 2013.

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