Arthritis Linked with Increased Risk for Depression

It’s not surprising to learn that chronic pain is linked with a greater likelihood of depression but are patients with conditions like osteoarthritis (OA) regularly screened for depression?  Without treatment, people living with depression as a result of pain and an inability to participate in daily activities can become socially withdrawn and isolated.  And many health care researchers now consider loneliness as great a health risk as obesity or smoking. 

A recent Japanese study assessed 573 geriatric patients with knee OA, without symptoms of depression, over a 2-year period using the Geriatric Depression Scale to identify depression.  It was determined that depressive symptoms could be linked with pain and functional impairment. Up to 12 per cent of patients with knee OA may develop depression and researchers believe people with OA should be screened and, if warranted, receive treatment for depression.

There are approximately 54 million Americans living with osteoarthritis which is more common among adults over the age of 60.  The painful condition affects about 13 per cent of older women and 10 per cent of men and can make simple tasks such as dressing, getting in and out of bed or into and out of a car, difficult. 

According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety and depression that can result from living with chronic pain may also cause physical changes including raising blood pressure. These mental health problems can interfere with treatment programs, leading to worsening symptoms and a vicious cycle of pain and stress that affects mood, thinking and behavior and can lead to depression.  Patients are less likely to stick with their exercise or other treatment regimes when they experience symptoms of depression and may stop participating in activities they enjoy and in turn experience a poorer quality of life. 

To read more about how arthritis affects physical as well as mental health, follow this link to the Arthritis Foundation Living With Arthritis Blog.