Check your patients with depression for signs of arthritis

Depression To Arthritis Blog
The more depressed the patient, the more likely they are to have the rheumatoid condition.

Older patients with depressive symptoms should be screened for arthritis, according to US researchers who say while it's common to check for depression with arthritis, the reverse doesn't happen as often. Data from nearly 4800 adults aged over 50 reveal arthritis is commonly reported by patients with depressive symptoms. The incidence increased with severity of depression, with arthritis found in 55% of participants with mild depression, in 63% with moderate depression andin  68% of severely depressed individuals.  

Further, arthritis rates were lowest (38%) in the 1345 participants who did not have depression, the researchers reported in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Significant associations between moderate depression and arthritis remained after adjustments for factors such as age, gender, binge drinking, smoking, sedentary behaviour, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

Although it is well established that clinicians should screen for depressive symptoms in patients with clinically relevant pain from arthritis, the reverse may not hold true.

Data was obtained from people enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2011 and 2014. 

Participants completed a nine-point questionnaire on the frequency of depressive symptoms over the previous two weeks, with the scores used to categorise depression as mild, moderate or severe. More than 2000 of the participants self-reported that a doctor had diagnosed their arthritis, but no distinction was made between different types of arthritis.

This study highlights the importance of screening for and treating arthritis‐related pain in older adults with depressive symptoms.


More information: International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 2018; online.