New Data Reveals Link Between Mental Health and Arthritis Impact 

New data aligns with intersection of Mental Health Awareness Month and Arthritis Awareness Month.  

ATLANTA (May 17, 2022) — Today the Arthritis Foundation released new findings from patient-reported data that show a significant connection between a patient feeling emotionally supported and their arthritis symptoms. Analysis completed by the Center for Program Design and Evaluation (CPDE) at Dartmouth College using data from nearly 27,000 patient responses (collected from 2019 to 2022) to the Arthritis Foundation’s ongoing Live Yes! INSIGHTS study reveals: 

  • Patients who have someone to talk to or connect with are twice as likely to experience higher levels of physical functioning than those who may feel alone or isolated.  

  • Patients who have someone to talk to or connect with report pain levels 16% lower than those who may feel alone or isolated.  

What this means for the nearly 60 million Americans diagnosed with arthritis  

The pervasiveness of arthritis pain has been known to impact a patient’s mental health, with 58% of adults with arthritis experiencing depressive symptoms that are outside of the general population norm(1). These latest data indicate a link between the value of connection and a patient’s pain — giving hope to arthritis patients of all ages and walks of life, said Steven Taylor, President and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation.  

“There’s long been a stigma associated with asking for help — and we hope to combat that by educating people about these new findings,” said Taylor. “We want patients to know that support is out there, whether it’s through the Arthritis Foundation or simply finding someone to talk to about what they’re going through. It can really make a difference.”  

Understanding the difference between mental health and emotional wellbeing  

Dr. Natalie Dattilo, clinical health psychologist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said one way to fight that stigma is to understand that mental health is not just defined as the absence of a psychological diagnosis — it’s about maintaining a state of wellbeing. 

“When we take note of all of the factors that can impose on our physical and emotional health, we can take steps to better manage our responses to stress,” said Dattilo, who is also co-chair of the Arthritis Foundation’s Integrative & Mental Health Expert Panel. “After these past two-plus years where so many felt isolated, it’s important to know the value of what connecting with others can mean for our wellbeing.”  

The Arthritis Foundation recommends steps you can take to manage your mental health with arthritis. Visit arthritis.org for help and support in your arthritis journey.  

  • Speak up. Share your feelings with your health care provider or caregiver.  

  • Find a support group or speak with a mental health professional.  

  • Prioritize self-care. Choose activities and people that lift your mood.  

  • Get adequate sleep of at least seven to eight hours nightly.  

  • Spend time outdoors. A walk around the block or spending time in nature can boost your mood.  

  • Move regularly. Physical activity can improve your mood and help with pain management. 

More resources are available at arthritis.org.  

Newsrooms:  

Downloadable video, B-Roll, and scripts available here.  

About the Arthritis Foundation:  

The Arthritis Foundation is fighting for all people who live with arthritis. As a Champion of Yes, it's the Arthritis Foundation's mission to turn the obstacles arthritis causes into opportunities. The Arthritis Foundation champions life-changing solutions and medical advancements, and it also provides ways for people to connect, break down barriers in health care and join the fight for a cure — uniting hearts, minds and resources to change the future of arthritis. To join the fight to cure arthritis, visit arthritis.org.  

 

(1) Arthritis Foundation. May 2021 INSIGHTS Report | How It Hurts. Available at: www.arthritis.org/liveyes/insights/how-it-hurts 

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