Depression and Rheumatoid Arthritis


Disability and a recent diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are associated with a greater risk for depression according to research funded by the Arthritis Foundation.

Studies show that people with RA who are depressed have worse outcomes – including death – as compared to people with RA who are not depressed. Previous studies regarding RA and depression included a primarily Caucasian population. To remedy this bias, scientists from University of California, San Francisco, designed a study to evaluate predictors of depression in patients from a multiethnic group of people with RA at an urban hospital.

Of the 210 people with RA enrolled in the study, 39 percent had scores on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 that indicated at least moderate depression. Patient-, disease-, and treatment-related information was gathered to see if any of these factors are associated with depression. The study found that race/ethnicity, disease activity and medications are not associated with depression. The variables associated with depression are shorter disease duration and increased disability as scored on the Health Assessment Questionnaire.

Lead scientist Mary Margaretten, MD, says, “RA affects people both physically and psychologically. Given that comorbid depressive symptoms are known to worsen health outcomes, it is useful to parse out the determinants of depression in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.”

Margaretten M, et al. Predictors of depression in a multi-ethnic cohort of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Abstract presented at American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting. San Francisco, October 25-29, 2008.

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